In the aftermath of the tragic shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin president Barack Obama has called for national “soul searching.” Obama condemned the violent shooting in Wisconsin and its recent predecessor, the so-called “Batman massacre” in Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman opened fire in a movie theater during the premier of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. Law enforcement agencies are investigating both shootings for motive. In the case of the Wisconsin shooting the victims were of the minority Sikh faith, prevalent in India, and the FBI is investigating the shooting as possibly racially-motivated.
Despite the furor over the legally-purchased weaponry used by both shooters, Obama has remained cautious about calling for additional gun laws, reports Reuters. The president has supported the U.S. Constitution’s second amendment, which provides for the right to bear arms, and has apparently been reluctant to test a conservative Congress with legislation continuing bans on assault rifles. As time ticks down before election day Obama should go with his gut and publicly proclaim his support for additional legislation against assault weapons and the manufacture and sale of extended ammunition clips.
Greg McCune of Reuters reports that extended ammunition clips, also called high-capacity magazines, are popular with mass shooters. The shooters in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, 2011 Tucson shooting, and the recent Aurora shooting all used popular 9mm or .40 caliber semiautomatic handguns with high-capacity magazines, with some of the magazines holding more than 30 rounds. New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg has proposed legislation to ban the sale of such high-capacity magazines but the bill is considered to have no chance of success. While one U.S. Senator has been brave enough to propose a commonsense reaction to the problem of quick-and-easy excessive firepower it will take the bully pulpit of the White House to get a groundswell of public support going.
Two tragic shootings so close to election day in November should give Obama some leverage in proposing legislation to cut down on the amount of firepower a citizen can easily obtain. He should have the confidence to use this leverage for constructive purpose. Even a die-hard lifetime member of the National Rifle Association should be able to see the benefit of limits on portable personal firepower and vote for some rational legislation to ban high-capacity magazines.