Guns In America Town Hall - First Step of Many to End Gun Violence
Primetime Thursday evening, CNN held a “Guns in America” town hall with President Obama, moderated by Anderson Cooper. Noticeably absent from the discussion of guns, was the nations largest guns rights organization, the National Rifle Association (“NRA”). The NRA declined an invitation from both the President and CNN, who was prepared to offer the NRA a public platform to state their grievances surrounding the President’s new executive action to promote gun safety.
As noted by Anderson Cooper, distance was not a factor for the gun rights organization. The NRA offices were just down the road within a convenient proximity to the event, which took place at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Many speculate whether the NRA declined the invitation because they have no intention of finding common ground – whether their sole aim is to increase sales for gun manufacturers regardless of the outcome. It appears the NRA missed a signature opportunity to debate the president and explain to the nation what specific concerns they have regarding his executive actions to promote gun safety.
President Obama interacted with the crowd, fielding questions from audience members who were opposed to gun safety as well as advocates of gun safety. Taya Kyle, widow of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, was among the anti gun safety contingent. After proclaiming that background checks fail to solve the issue and dropping murder rates are insufficiently celebrated, Mrs. Kyle asserted, “I want the hope that I have the right to protect myself…that I have the freedom to carry whatever weapon I feel I need.” Kyle shares a sentiment with many NRA members, that ‘since background checks don’t solve all gun deaths, they aren’t the answer.’
President Obama attempted to dispel this notion by clarifying, the executive action is not intended to end all gun tragedies, but it will help to minimize them. To wit, no single executive action or legislation is capable of stopping crime. But the President hopes the effort to stop gun violence is not abandoned simply because the answer is multi faceted. Ending gun violence in the U.S. is complex, given this country’s penchant for extremely high rates of gun ownership. Long-term solutions to ending gun violence will require sacrifice and bipartisan support.
Engaging in meaningful dialogue on the issue, like the Guns In America town hall, is the first step to stopping gun violence.