On Wednesday, just over a month after the Newtown massacre shook the nation to its core, President Obama unveiled a broad package designed to curb gun violence. It includes a ban on assault weapons, limits on ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, required background checks for all gun purchases and stiff new penalties for those who buy guns from unlicensed dealers. The president also requested $150 million from Congress to allow schools to hire 1,000 new police officers, counselors and psychologists. The White House plan, in addition, comprises legislative and executive action to increase mental health services, including boosting funding for training aimed at getting young people into treatment more quickly.
Much of what he has suggested is logical and self-explanatory. While in the pro-gun lobby some have expressed valid concerns about the precedent being created through the further watering down of the Second Amendment, courts have repeatedly found that gun-control laws are, in fact, constitutional.
Polls show that a clear majority of Americans favor a nationwide ban on military-style weapons. They also would like to see limits on gun violence depicted in video games and by the entertainment and media industries. It is regrettable that Obama’s proposals do little to address that latter concern, other than calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research links between violent images and gun attacks.
Gun-control legislation is important and should be passed by Congress. But no less important is cracking down on the industries that help foster a culture of violence.
Only when this war is waged on multiple fronts will there be reasonable chance of really making a dent in gun violence.