By Robert Schlesinger |
President Obama delivered his State of the Union address last night, laying out proposals that delighted many liberals while turning off conservatives. Though the initial bulk of his speech focused on economic growth and reducing the deficit, Obama's address reached its emotional peak towards the end, when he plead with Congress for more action on gun violence:
"Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun."
The momentum reached a crescendo as the president invoked high-profile victims of gun violence:
"Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence—they deserve a simple vote."
The issue of gun control has long been a political minefield for lawmakers, but the massacre of 26 children and teachers at a Connecticut elementary school in December has brought it back to the policy front burner. The president responded to the tragedy with a series of executive orders and legislative proposals, the most controversial of which include an assault weapons ban, a ban of high capacity magazines, and an expansion of universal background checks. A number of congressmen, including some Republicans, wore green ribbons last to honor of the Newtown, Conn. victims. However not all members did, most notably including House Speaker John Boehner, and many observers took this as a bad sign for the prospects of enacting meaningful firearm regulations, particularly in the face of the influential National Rifle Association, which has opposed just about all of the president's proposals.
Did Obama's State of the Union gun rhetoric effectively sell gun control to Congress? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'