Last week, President Obama made a State of the Union Address regarding gun legislation. The White House is working to expand background checks for gun buyers. The President wants to close loopholes that allowed for individuals who sell firearms to avoid registering as licensed gun dealers or keeping formal sales records. The proposed legislation is a good idea to some, but troublesome for others.
Since former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was injured in a mass shooting in 2011, the debate about common sense gun legislation has heated up among legislators. Since the announcement, the President and his supporters have defended their actions to strengthen background checks. Obama publicly criticized the gun lobby, insisting that the actions won’t take guns away from gun owners.
Not only does the President want to increase background check systems, he also wants to provide more funding for mental health treatment, increase the staffing of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives agents. Many on Capitol Hill believe expanded background checks is a much needed step in the fight against gun violence. A recent Quinnipiac University poll stated that 84% of those in gun-owning homes, 95% of Democrats, 87% of Republicans, 86% of independents all support more background checks.
But when the public is asked to support stricter gun laws in general, the support is cut down to less than half in many polls. And there is a sharp partisan divide as well, with only 23% Republican support for tougher gun legislation, but 74% of Democratic support.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans have reacted negatively to Obama’s announcement. House Speaker Paul Ryan touts that whatever gun legislation is presented, it will be challenged in the courts by any Republican President. However, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton vowed that if elected she would continue Obama’s fight.
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