Editorial: Gun Control Ignored by Candidates

By The Editorial Board

Through three presidential debates and one vice-presidential sparring match, the candidates have talked about issues ranging from North Mali to Big Bird and other assorted “malarkey.” Yet, we at The Ram feel that one very serious issue has been neglected by both tickets: gun control. Gun control has only come up once in this campaign, notably at the Oct. 16 town-hall debate at Hofstra in which the audience asked the questions.

Four years ago, Obama pledged to fight for the renewal of the ban on assault rifles, which was put in place in 1994 and expired in 2004. Signed by President Clinton and opposed by many Republicans in Congress, the Brady Bill outlawed firearms including AK-47s, Uzis and TEC-9s (though, admittedly, similar weapons could be purchased even under the ban). Obama’s administration has not only failed to renew the ban but has also remained fairly silent on the issue.

Romney, on the other hand, now outright opposes the assault rifles ban. In July 2004, however, then-Governor Romney signed into law legislation that made the Massachusetts assault weapons ban permanent and not reliant on the 1994 federal ban. In fact, many states have their own bans in place, which are sometimes more stringent than their federal counterparts.

More than 30,000 people are shot and killed in America every year, half of which are suicides, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). Recently, there has been a recent increase of gun violence in large cities, including Chicago and New York. Why, then, has President Obama neglected to fight for the ban and has Romney voiced his newfound opposition to the ban? The answer lies in three simple letters: NRA.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is determined to squash public discourse on the issue of gun control. The NRA opposes even reasonable measures to curb the explosion of gun violence in America. There is no reason, as far as we can tell, that any citizen should need an AK-47. With atrocities such as the massacre in Aurora, Colo. (which involved the use of an assault weapon), the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin and the shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, we need to reevaluate the basis for easy accessibility of assault weapons.

Furthermore, obtaining a gun permit, even legally, should not be facile; if the process takes a long time, that is probably better. One of the most disturbing common threads of the shooting tragedies of the past few years has been the ability of people who are mentally unstable to obtain weapons.

Public discourse on gun control is being held hostage by the NRA at the expense of tens of thousands of American lives every year. The NRA refuses to even meet with President Obama and other Democrats to discuss the gun control issue according to The New York Times.

The NRA’s current political status and influence distorts its original intent of developing better marksmanship and training civilians so that they could join the military if called upon.  It has become, however, a lobby that interrupts debate and discourse, especially in terms of the role guns play in the increased gun violence in urban areas around the country.

Romney’s recent lack of backbone on the issue of gun control has earned him the endorsement of the NRA, which has spent over $12 million on this election during the 2012 cycle so far. The Republican candidate has decided to abandon the sensical gun control reforms that he supported while governor to avoid the multi-million dollar wrath of the NRA.

In sum, it is the power of the gun lobby has not allowed a true debate and discussion on the issue.