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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Students chime in with their take on Obama’s gun control

Rebecca Noble
Antique and used pistols sit on display at Frontier Gun Shop at 3156 E. Grant Rd. in Tucson on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Frontier Gun Shop has been open for 42 years and sells a variety of pistols, shotguns and rifles.

President Barack Obama announced his new plan of executive action to tackle gun control in a speech on Jan. 5, 2016, in the White House East Room. His plan includes four main components that were outlined in his speech, which can be found on the White House website.

The first component of the executive action requires the licensing of gun sellers and expands background checks on gun buyers, both over the internet and in stores and gun shows.

Julian Sharpe, a pre-business sophomore and a member of both the UA College Republicans and Young Americans for Liberty club, sees a problem with this.

“He tried to legislate through executive order by saying that anybody who sells a firearm, even if it’s to your family member or to your close friend, that you are now a gun dealer and now you must get a license to sell guns, which means you would have to do background checks for these purchasers through the federal system,” Sharpe, who identifies as a libertarian and runs the Students for Rand club, said. “I don’t think that people are going to be abiding to that, especially if they are criminals.”

Sharpe also said that there could be difficulties in regulating private transactions federally.

Some think there could be benefits to increased background checks. Ian Winner, an astronomy junior who considers himself an independent who leans on the liberal side, said that increased background checks could help prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

“I can’t think of any real justification for quick, fast-purchasing gun options, so I think [increased background checks] will be extremely effective,” Winner said.

In order to increase the efficiency of the background check system, the second component of Obama’s executive action plan entails hiring an additional 200 investigators and agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. These efforts will go towards bringing “an outdated background check system into the 21st century,” according to Obama’s.

The third component of the plan, as outlined in Obama’s speech, tackles the issue of helping treat those with mental illness and making sure that this information makes it in to the background check system. In his speech, Obama said he plans to “invest $500 million to expand access to treatment across the country.” Mental health records will also be submitted to the background check system.

This discussion of mental health issues has been appreciated by both Winner and Sharpe.

“Basically, Obama just called out everyone who was using gun violence as an excuse and being like ‘gun violence isn’t actually the problem, it’s the mental illness,’” Winner said. “He’s tackling both and being like this is your time to actually step up and support a bill that will actually help mental illness and at the same time also tackles gun control.”

In his speech, Obama mentioned that suicide is behind almost two out of three gun deaths, a fact that Sharpe was quick to point out. However, he said he does not think the executive action will necessarily stop all gun-related tragedies.

“I think there is a discussion about mental illness that we do have to have, that we need to be watching more with our family and our friends if we notice something that’s changed,” Sharpe said. “Other than that, I don’t think you can legislate anything that can prevent more tragedies like those in San Bernardino.”

For the fourth component of the executive plan, Obama called for the development of safer gun technology in order to decrease incidents of injuries resulting from firearm misuse accidents.

“If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?” Obama asked in his speech.

Despite all of the components of the plan, some, like Ashlee Bierworth, a junior studying political science and law and president of the College Republicans, believes the plan will not really change the country significantly. The executive order may even be overturned by the courts because it is unconstitutional, according to Bierworth.

“Regardless of the policies set forth, the president completely violated the foundations of our country, states’ rights, and the purpose of the constitution,” Bierworth said in an email. “We are a republic, and have a Congress for a reason. Just because Congress was not passing the laws that the President wished for does not give him the right to go around Congress completely and instill these policy changes.”

Sharpe said he believes the executive order violates the Second Amendment, where “it’s very plainly said that in order to keep a well-regulated militia, the right to bear arms should not be infringed.”

However, Winner said he sees the executive action not as a violation of the Second Amendment but more of a way to change it to increase safety for the country.

“The executive order isn’t being like ‘no more guns,’” he said. “It’s just saying we need to take more time as we distribute them to the right people.”

Regardless of the differences in reaction to the executive action, the plan has opened a dialogue about gun control in the U.S.

“I don’t think anything statistically will change, but I do think that a conversation needs to be had, whatever side you’re on,” Sharpe said.

Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.

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