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Enough Is Enough: How Obama Should Pull The Trigger On Gun Reform

President Obama pauses as he speaks at the Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, Friday, June 19, about gun violence. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
President Obama pauses as he speaks at the Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, Friday, June 19, about gun violence. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
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To anyone keeping their eye on the big picture, the shooting over the weekend at a Colorado Planned Parenthood that left three dead and nine injured was not only predictable, but inevitable.

After all, here in the most prosperous nation on earth, we average more than one mass shooting a day. The Colorado rampage — which overshadowed a bloodbath in Sacramento that left two dead and two wounded — brought the annual total of mass shootings to 351.

To me, the weekend’s most disheartening moment was watching President Obama deliver yet another grim and toothless scolding. “This is not normal,” Obama said, inaccurately. “We can’t let it become normal … Enough is enough.”

To me, the weekend’s most disheartening moment was watching President Obama deliver yet another grim and toothless scolding.

Gotcha, prez. Tough words.

But you’ve said the same thing over and over again.

Last month, as you may recall, Obama called gun violence "a political choice we make" and declared that politicians “are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction."

If Obama truly believes such statements — if he truly wants to create a new normal — it’s time for him to stop talking and start taking action.

The first thing Obama could do — and he could have done this a long time ago, frankly — is use his executive authority to put sensible gun control measures into place.

That’s what presidents do when faced with a moral crises that cannot be solved legislatively. And for complicated reasons having to do with Democratic cowardice as much as Republican intransigence, it’s patently obvious that our current Congress will not pass meaningful gun control legislation.

This is despite the fact that 60 percent of the American people say they want stricter gun control laws, and more than 90 percent favor a federal background check on all gun buyers.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Obama has real political leverage here. He doesn’t have to run for re-election. And the truth is that enacting a more sensible gun control system — banning assault rifles, for instance, and closing the idiotic "gun show loophole" — will prove popular with the vast majority of voters.

People attend a vigil held on University of Colorado-Colorado Springs' campus for those killed in Friday's deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (David Zalubowski/AP)
People attend a vigil held on University of Colorado-Colorado Springs' campus for those killed in Friday's deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Obama shouldn’t just use his executive power. He and his advisers should write a bill that includes all the most popular and sensible gun control measures. They should call it something like, the “Stop Daily Mass Shootings in America Act.”

Obama should read the act live on national TV. Then he should get up and walk all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue — surrounded by the victims and survivors of mass shootings, including Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head by a deranged man with a semi-automatic Glock with a 33-bullet magazine.

Also along for the ride, should be all available media.

When Obama gets to Capitol Hill, he should walk the bill right into the Senate and meet with any leaders brave enough to face him.

He should then proceed to the House of Representatives.

At each of these meetings, he should conduct a short news conference, explaining that when a vast majority of a population favors a particular set of laws that will save the lives of a huge number of Americans, it is the sworn duty of the elected representatives of that population to pass those laws.

Would Obama be accused of political grandstanding? Who cares?

Would Obama be accused of political grandstanding?

Who cares?

We have reached a place of utter insanity, where twisted paranoia, greed and political cravenness have trumped the safety of our citizenry.

Americans now own 112 guns for every hundred residents, nearly twice the rate of any other country. (Serbia and Yemen are a distant second and third.)

And yet only one in three Americans owns a gun. Which means a small minority of our citizens own most of the guns. It is the individuals in this population who insist they need virtually unfettered access to all manner of deadly weapons.

These are the same individuals who perpetrate the vast majority of mass shootings.

Obama knows that enacting commonsense measures will reduce the killing in this country. So does anyone else with a functioning frontal lobe.

It’s time for him to put up or shut up.

Related:

Steve Almond Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond's new book, "Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country," is now available. He hosts the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed.

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