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Presiden Obama begins: "It's been more than two months since the tragedy in Tucson stunned the nation. It was a moment when we came together as one people to mourn and to pray for those we lost. And in the attack's turbulent wake, Americans by and large rightly refrained from finger-pointing, assigning blame or playing politics with other people's pain."

Captain Mark Kelly, Representative Gabrielle Giffords's husband, held her hand in her room at University Medical Center in Tucson, 01/11/11. (photo: Office of Gabrielle Giffords)
Captain Mark Kelly, Representative Gabrielle Giffords's husband, held her hand in her room at University Medical Center in Tucson, 01/11/11. (photo: Office of Gabrielle Giffords)

Obama Op-Ed: We Must Seek Agreement on Gun Reforms

By President Barack Obama, Op-Ed in The Arizona Daily Star

15 March 11


t's been more than two months since the tragedy in Tucson stunned the nation. It was a moment when we came together as one people to mourn and to pray for those we lost. And in the attack's turbulent wake, Americans by and large rightly refrained from finger-pointing, assigning blame or playing politics with other people's pain.

But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.

He used it to murder six people and wound 13 others. And if not for the heroism of bystanders and a brilliant surgical team, it would have been far worse.

But since that day, we have lost perhaps another 2,000 members of our American family to gun violence. Thousands more have been wounded. We lose the same number of young people to guns every day and a half as we did at Columbine, and every four days as we did at Virginia Tech.

Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society. And as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put a stop to it.

Now, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts have settled that as the law of the land. In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that's handed from generation to generation. Hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage. And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners - it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible. They're our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that's something that gun-safety advocates need to accept. Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tucson.

I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country.

However, I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place.

I'm willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few - dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example - from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

I'm willing to bet they don't think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas - that we should check someone's criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to buy a gun so easily; that there's room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment.

That's why our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

  • First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that's supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn't been properly implemented. It relies on data supplied by states - but that data is often incomplete and inadequate. We must do better.

  • Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data - and therefore do the most to protect our citizens.

  • Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it.

Porous background checks are bad for police officers, for law-abiding citizens and for the sellers themselves. If we're serious about keeping guns away from someone who's made up his mind to kill, then we can't allow a situation where a responsible seller denies him a weapon at one store, but he effortlessly buys the same gun someplace else.

Clearly, there's more we can do to prevent gun violence. But I want this to at least be the beginning of a new discussion on how we can keep America safe for all our people.

I know some aren't interested in participating. Some will say that anything short of the most sweeping anti-gun legislation is a capitulation to the gun lobby. Others will predictably cast any discussion as the opening salvo in a wild-eyed scheme to take away everybody's guns. And such hyperbole will become the fodder for overheated fundraising letters.

But I have more faith in the American people than that. Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word "commonsense" isn't a code word for "confiscation." And none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television.

As long as those whose lives are shattered by gun violence don't get to look away and move on, neither can we.

We owe the victims of the tragedy in Tucson and the countless unheralded tragedies each year nothing less than our best efforts - to seek consensus, to prevent future bloodshed, to forge a nation worthy of our children's futures. your social media marketing partner


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+28 # Gringaryan 2011-03-15 20:44
Absolutely, let's get started with some sanity here. It is unacceptable to have more than 2000 deaths by guns in a two month period. Unacceptable! I KNOW there are areas of agreement among rational people .... and enforcing laws that exist and closing loopholes is a fabulous idea! Let's do it! YAY
+13 # George Levinson 2011-03-15 23:34
Obama is already capitulating to the gun interests. Not a single idea about legislation, maybe banning large capacity magazines?

He refuses to take a hard stand on anything. Where is the strong progressive leader we need so badly?
-5 # b_niles57 2011-03-16 08:23
We certainly won't find a leader in the White House at this moment! Progressive Tea Party anyone? Time to change what's going on with our Democratic "Leadership". They have failed our party badly.
+1 # George D 2011-03-16 15:18
I was leading the charge to help put Obama in the White House. He's been a huge disappointment and I'm already looking to 2012; Without Obama.
I won't vote for a Republican, unless they are an extremely different Republican than we have seen in modern times, but I think it's time we collectively throw support behind and urge a third choice to get into the race, before the campaigning season begins. So far, the only two choices that make sense are Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich; But an Anthony Weiner or even a Barbara Boxer could be a dark horse.

Obama needs to make that famous LBJ speech. "If nominated, I will not run; If elected, I will not serve". I won't hold my breath.

Quoting George Levinson:
Obama is already capitulating to the gun interests. Not a single idea about legislation, maybe banning large capacity magazines?

He refuses to take a hard stand on anything. Where is the strong progressive leader we need so badly?
+16 # scottmk 2011-03-15 23:52
That's it? An op-ed on gun control? With everything that's going down in the world right now, and all he's got to write about is gun control? Not that it isn't otherwise a worthy subject.

Go to and see the kind of speech that President Obama should be making -- but won't. Where has he been during the labor crisis in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana? Where's his desperately-nee ded leadership?

This false "the sky is falling" argument about slashing deficits is partly his fault: by agreeing to extend the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy, we've INCREASED the deficit by $680B over the next decade, and then come after the working class to pay for it. We needed Obama to stand up against the Bush Tax Cuts -- like he promised -- not pave the way for the GOP/Tea Party slash-and-burn program.

It's all about private profit instead of government expenditure. The Right wants to crush government services so they can privatize EVERYTHING and make private profit on everything that used to be a public service.

We need to stop it NOW, and we need a president who will stand up and fight for the very essence of America: government of, by and for THE PEOPLE.

Lead, Mr. President, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY.
+1 # b_niles57 2011-03-16 08:21
I agree! What a fraud of a man, and of a president he turned out to be! The world burns while Obama fiddles away...
+10 # chris martin 2011-03-16 09:34
ok. what SHOULD he be doing? you do realize that this president has unprecedented opposition at every turn. what could or should he do???? let's hear some solution.
+1 # b_niles57 2011-03-16 16:01
I don't mean to sound snide, but seriously ANYTHING that is coming from a vaguely progressive stance would be better than what we have from our compromise-happ y, don't-rock-the boat leader in chief. He has not led his party, fought for the middle class, or stood for liberalism in any way since he compromised his way into a watered down health reform bill while presiding over a substantial majority in house and senate. What has he done that you or I could not have?
-1 # Patch 2011-03-16 20:27
I basically agree with you. Obama has been a big disappointment. As far as guns go, how about requiring people to license them as we license our cars. That would be a good first step.
+26 # HEINZ57 2011-03-16 00:19
As a life-long Alaskan whose father was a member of the NRA and who signed me up for gun safety classes sponsored by the NRA as a small child, I have no problems with people owning guns. I DO have a problem with people owning high caliber, automatic weapons that have no reason for being in existence--othe r than to kill other people. Yes, go hunting, carry a gun against bear attacks, keep a gun at home for protection, but OUTLAW guns designed to murder innocent people--whether in war or on the streets of America. In today's world, I don't believe my Dad would be a member of the NRA--it's gone beyond common sense to the extreme in its battles to allow EVERYONE WHOSE NOT A FELON TO BE FULLY ARMED AND ON THE STREETS AT ANY TIME. This is ridiculous.
-30 # DaveM 2011-03-16 01:04
How many of the 2000 deaths mentioned above were the result of people using lawfully purchased and owned firearms? How many died while attempting to commit a crime? How many of those deaths were the result of legitimate acts of self-defense (that figure might be hard to get, as not many states even believe in self-defense, at least as a legal defense)?

Better still: how many people since the tragedy in Tucson went down to their local sporting goods store, legally purchased a firearm, and used it to shoot someone? I would bet you can count the number on one hand. In fact...there might be none at all.

Depending on who you believe, between one and two million Americans defend themselves with lawfully-owned firearms every year. In 90-95% of such cases, no shots are fired, so you won't find those in the statistics above.

I am a lawful and law-abiding gun owner. But the day I am asked to give up, register, or otherwise limit my own access to my own property will be the day I become a criminal. Not so much because I have a "need" for firearms but because I will never trust or obey a government that does not trust its citizens.
+15 # Doctoretty 2011-03-16 07:57
Do you own a car that isn't registered?
-2 # George D 2011-03-16 15:24
Bad example. Yes; Several.

Quoting Doctoretty:
Do you own a car that isn't registered?
+6 # AndreM5 2011-03-16 09:06
"In 90-95% of such cases, no shots are fired, so you won't find those in the statistics above."

So how would you get such statistics at all?

And what the heck does this have to do with "trust?" Oh, I get it. You want to carry weapons in public because you don't trust your fellow citizens, who of course, don't trust you when you carry lethal weapons in public, so they want to carry lethal weapons in public.
+6 # DaveW 2011-03-16 11:53
DaveM, "I will never trust or obey a government that does not trust its citizens." So why have any laws at all? Aren't a "majority" of crimes committed in the U.S. enacted by "citizens?" Why the hell should they recognize any laws perpetrated by a government that "doesn't trust them." In the event of an invasion by outside forces would "you" obey your government if it told you that "your" firearms were needed to protect your city, state, country? Would it matter if the orders came from a Republican or a Democrat? Would "you" directly disobey orders from "your" government? Are "you" a member of a "well regulated militia?" Please give details how that operates. Talk is cheap. I'll be waiting for your answers. Bradley Manning is being tortured for "disobeying government orders." Are "you", previously "law abiding citizen" willing to join him?
+14 # LizR 2011-03-16 02:43
I have a feeling these "guns" that do so much damage are more like semi-automatic weapons than say rifles, shotguns or revolvers. The people of the USA apparently have the right to bear arms, but should they have the right to have weapons that are normally only used by armies? If so, I assume there would be no legal objection if a US citizen wanted to build himself an atomic bomb (so long as he didn't break any other laws while doing so, e.g. stealing someone else's uranium).
+8 # lkach 2011-03-16 05:44
Obama "believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts [in Heller] have settled that as the law of the land."

This means that Obama agrees with the Roberts 5 majority in Heller which includes 2 justices appointed by a president illegally selected by the other 3.
He disagrees with the 4 judge minority including Justice John Paul Stevens who stated that the Roberts 5's decision in Heller was "a strained and unpersuasive reading" which overturned longstanding precedent, and that the court had "bestowed a dramatic upheaval in the law".

We once again know which side Obama is on - with his finger always in the wind, whichever way the money is blowing.

He also shows a misuse of information. The 2008 Harris poll showed "a relative majority of respondents overall (49%) favored stricter gun control, rather than keeping things the same (21%) or relaxing restrictions (20%)." A right to bear arms is one thing; an uncontrolled right to bear arms is entirely different, but is what the Supreme Court seemed to dictate.
+1 # AndreM5 2011-03-16 09:08
I am disturbed by a President who thinks the Supremes make "law of the land." Dangerous bunk.
+4 # Foghead 2011-03-16 06:53
A decently written article but it fails to address a big issue - plea bargains or lack of genuine law enforcement regarding gun violence. As long as cars exist, there will always be car accidents - simple fact... and banning guns outright would be about as feasible as totally banning cars... gun crimes should automatically receive a maximum sentence without any hope of an early parole. People get draconian sentences for minor drug charges while people who murder with firearms get a slap on the wrist and an early release.

Almost makes me think that 'the system' needs these folks back out and causing trouble in order to justify their budgets...

Enforce the laws and punish the negligent, NOT the innocent.
+10 # restore2america 2011-03-16 07:19
Many of the so-called "loopholes" turn out to be rhetoric rather than reality when closely examined.

Instead of focusing our energies on "let's control something that will make us feel more in control of an out of control situation", how about putting our energies into reversing the mortgage "meltdown" theft of 5 million homes, the BP Gulf oil disaster that is killing more people than gun violence, the rampant GOP program to suppress workers and unions, the massive movement of wealth to the rich from all the rest of us?

Those problems are harder to solve than passing a feel-good law. So are gun violence problems. We have to come to grips with the underlying problems - a meaner, greedier, more selfish, angrier, more hopeless, poorer society will be more violent.

Whether "finding agreement" on gun control "won't hurt" is useless. Will it help when the underlying rage and pain in our society keeps getting worse by the day? Will it REALLY help, or will it just make us feel better, a distraction from our sense of helplessness?

Obama - and the rest of us - need to be finding agreement on solutions to the real problems that are tearing apart our country, our economy and our environment.

Unfortunately those problems involve opposing rich, powerful companies rather than individual gun owners.
+6 # granny 2011-03-16 07:20
Let's hope that THIS time our duly elected President stands up and does not give in to the NRA and gun-crazy hate groups who want guns in school and throughout communities. Let's hope that for once he shows us that he deserved our vote in 2008. Then maybe he'll get it again in 2012. Let's HOPE that the Koch-habit Rethuglicans don't make him give u[ his bully pulpit on this one.
-5 # rf 2011-03-16 07:25
This is the liberal bell sound kind of like gay marriage or abbortion for the Repubes. I think there are much more pressing problems for the president to think about, like the fact that our democracy is become a facist state and we may need those guns soon.
+8 # b_niles57 2011-03-16 08:20
Amen. Perhaps Obama doesn't realize that he is about to go down as the Neville Chamberlain of our time! I voted for him as much for the man I thought he was as for the President I thought he would be. Seems I was fooled on both accounts!
+2 # Hendrik 2011-03-17 20:30
This IS a fascist state: Big business in cahoots with government
+3 # b_niles57 2011-03-16 07:58
Once again, I am left feeling like Obama lives in some alternative universe. Japan is in severe crisis, the mid-West is crushing Democracy, while North Africa is on fire. We are in a world wide crisis of epic proportions. Now, he wants to talk gun control? Last week it was bullying? Get some perspective man! Get a grip. Take some command of the situation around you, and lead! What a disappointing person and president. Wish I voted Hilary
+4 # DaveW 2011-03-16 11:26
b_niles57, "Wish I voted Hilary." You did! Obama is nothing but Hilary's shadow. NOTHING would be any different with her than with him. They're BOTH part of the club.
+2 # Ron Keeney 2011-03-16 08:32
It is amazing how many people just want to shout meaninglessly at each other, rather than focus on the problem and attempt to find common ground toward solving the problem. I am an avid shooter, but I can accept that work needs to be done to stop senseless, human-on-human, gun violence, whether it is to assure the application of a good mental health system, apply existing laws effectively, add new measures to fill in gaps that contribute to problems, ensure that officials already charged with doing the job actually do their jobs effectively, etc. Of course, Sweeeping "gun control" laws won't solve the problem. Why would we expect those who break the current gun-use laws to obey any new ones?
+4 # Leslie Henderson 2011-03-16 09:04
Yes guns, the people behind guns have killed many people, and Obama is certainly one to talk, look how many 100's of thousands have been killed by the guns from Obama's war games! All for Democracy he says, more like hypocrisy!
0 # tedrey 2011-03-16 09:06
What about a law that whenever someone is found guilty of murder, the person who sold him the gun used would be subject to a very large fine and/or jail time? That wouldn't infringe the Second Amendment at all . . . and salesmen might be much more careful.
+2 # wfalco 2011-03-16 09:26
A gun, by my interpretation, is made and bought to shoot. Some will say shooting is sport-be it to blow away animals or shoot at some target. The non-blowing away crowd, like myself, will never understand those that enjoy that particular form of mayhem.(I prefer beating someone in a boxing ring-with head gear, of course.) Thus this issue shall always remain as the ultimate wedge issue-like abortion.
In other words, there is no common ground and it is a waste of time to even attempt to mediate it as such.
I have known some criminals in my day (many years ago)and it seems the guns were bought legally at one point in time. So the argument that is frequently made by the blow-'em away crowd- that criminals always get their guns illegally is false.
Go to a southern state and buy,buy,buy. It's incredibly easy to buy a bunch at those nutty gun shows. A wise criminal can hire people to go down and load up on guns. And what about all the weapons purchased by the Mexican gangs across the boarder in the good old USA ? Bought legally, of course.Your wasting your time,Prez.
+6 # Lulie 2011-03-16 09:53
All Obama does is talk. I can hardly stand to listen to him anymore.
+1 # giraffee2012 2011-03-16 10:01
There must be "hidden" money in selling and/or owning guns for the NRS (& supporters) to refuse to allow legislation to prohibit these multi-bullet shooting guns to be sold at all. It seems even the hunters say they don't need those multi-shooters. For those who put up lame arguments to twist the 2nd amendment to suit their needs at the expense of, say, an 11 year old girl in a parking lot, from getting shot by some random nut -- or, to say it even more bluntly, the power of holding a gun ...

I'm beginning to think the USA should divide into those who want their guns and abortion laws to rule over JOBS should be a separate country from those of us whowant JOBS, freedom to choose about their own bodies, and etc.

BTW, this brings me to another thought for the T-Party folks: You want smaller government control but most of you also want the government to control abortion: You want government to get out of education and into the womb? RIght to choose is as democratic as right to be protected ... as don't choose when governemnt can interfere and can't by random standards. Fair weather friends are not friends at all.
0 # IVAN 2011-03-16 11:28
I'm not one to leave comments on these things but I have to respond to what I have read here. When spouting stats. one must look beyond the larger number. The smaller numbers tell you things like most shootings are suicide. There are other factors as well. Accidental shootings to both shooter and shootie are another. Everyone would like to see less death by all forces. Another common comment,"There is no reason for people to have large caliber automatic weapons" First of all who are these people that own these "large caliber automatic weapons" ? That will be the military. What is thrown around so wrecklessly is the term "automatic weapons" These are semi atuomatic weapons. FYI a revolver is a semiautomatic weapon. A semi auto weapon is one that when the trigger is pulled a round can be fired without cycling the the action. There are citizens that have special permits for automatic weapons.These are class three(3)permits issued by the ATF are very uncommon. The idea of smaller clips/magazines is really not an issue. A person just needs to carry more mags. A mag can be changed in under five (5) seconds. The desriptive term "assault weapons" is a buzz term. So change the stock (the non metalic part)and voila its an assautlt weapon. The difference between civ AR-15 and mil M-16 is the three shot burst. Want to see changes ? Start with some commen sense. IVAN
+2 # Glen 2011-03-16 13:39
Beginning with actual facts on guns is a start, but then one must move on to actual facts about American society and the ridiculous amount of crime and psychoses. The violent types in the U.S. will find a way to kill, even without "assault weapons". Thanks for your comments, Ivan
+1 # George D 2011-03-16 15:52
I have been called a "liberal" many times, and never a neo-con. I like to consider myself an Independent.
On the question of gun control, people get too polarized on both sides. Not all gun owners are criminals or killers. Most just feel safer to have a weapon in their home. I know that I do. But when I leave my home, I don't like to leave a weapon for a burglar to find and then help him become a (MY) murderer. So what to do?
Certainly, being able to legally carry a gun to a political rally is insanity. The Tea Party nutcase's need to be controlled; But not by outlawing guns.

Just another note; One person asked about owning an unregistered car. It was a dumb question because it is, in fact, LEGAL to own a car that isn't registered. But beyond that, should my bow and arrow be registered? What about my nail gun? My machete? This could go on and on.
There really needs to be a balance between controlling the ownership of something that can do massive damage to human life and the individual's right to be armed for their own self defense.
I don't buy the militia thing. Oh they can "pretend" they would be able to "fight for freedom" against the government, but it would be a very short fight indeed. Better to just kill yourself and get it over with.
-3 # DaveW 2011-03-16 16:10
Ivan, Aside from the semantics of "gun identification" I have one issue of contention with your otherwise sound statement. "Everyone would like to see less death by all forces." I don't believe the NRA and many of the firearms manufacturers that comprise that orginization are concerned with deaths resulting from gun use. Fear, is one of the gun industry's prime motivators in the continued proliferation of guns. Bigotry is another. When Obama became President, Gun sales in the U.S. increased exponentially. Why? Fear, of course. Fear of newly empowered African-America ns roaming our communities looking for retribution and fear that a Democratic President might actually use the "common sense" you speak of and employ some of that sense in the enforcement of gun laws. "Deaths" by firearms only helps an industry that makes a product that "kills" sell more of that product. Hot Dogs wishing to survive DON'T go around promoting mustard. We have more gun related deaths than any nation, of all varieties, because we have more guns. 2+2=4 We also "export" more firearms than any nation on Earth. And man was created in God's own image....
-1 # emmett Miller 2011-03-18 18:45
Yes - We need the legislation.
For far too long the radicals have defended the freedom for inappropriate to purchase guns without full identification. This is done so that the unhinged can do their dirty work. They publish crosshairs, then demonize such people as ML King, and B Obama, Rep Giffords, etc. The unhinged have already purchased their gun in broad daylight - now they act to assassinate those identified as "other," or "muslim," or "alien," by Fox News et al.
These staunch proponents of "Law and Order" and "The War on Terra" refuse to allow our laws to protect us from the Hinkleys, Sirhans, Oswalds, Rays, and all the others who are the Black Ops of the Far Right Radicals. Gun shops oppose the laws, after all, a significant part of their income comes from the purchases by people who would be denied, or who would shy away from being identified as the purchaser of a gun.
Let us step beyond this denial, Now.
There is no better time

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