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Washington, D.C.—In an effort to reduce gun violence, President Obama signed 23 gun-control and school-safety measures on Wednesday, calling on Congress to pass even more restrictions. Obama’s orders, which are being called the most sweeping legislation of this generation, stiffen background checks on gun buyers. He called on Congress to pass more limits on semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines.
“[If] there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,” Obama said.
Vice President Joe Biden, who led a White House task force on gun violence, said, “The world has changed, and it’s demanding action.”
Passing any new legislation will be difficult because of widespread opposition. Opponents of gun control say this is the wrong move. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said, “President Obama is targeting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence.”
Texas Governor Rick Perry said the solution to the “evil prowling in the world” is to “return to our places of worship and pray for help.”
According to a new poll, 55 percent of Americans favor stricter gun-control laws, but only 39 percent say those laws would reduce gun violence all by themselves.
Professor Terri Francis, who lost a relative to gun violence, said civil discourse is essential as citizens work toward societal change. Americans have said “enough is enough” before, Francis said, pointing to the civil-rights movement and the crusade against drunk driving.
Obama’s calls for stronger gun control coincided with the reopening of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater where a gunman killed 12 people in July. Some victims’ family members boycotted the reopening, calling it insensitive and callous. Others, including Aurora’s mayor, say reclaiming the theater is part of the healing process.
Sources: CNN.com, ChristianPost.com, Associated Press
- Where do you stand in the gun-control debate, and why? In light of recent mass shootings, do you think Obama is reacting appropriately? underreacting? overreacting? Explain.
- How well do you think these new proposals would reduce violence in our society? Which do you think would be easier: enacting stricter gun laws or reducing media violence?
- Do you agree with Gov. Perry that prayer is the answer to ending violence? Is it appropriate to place a societal problem strictly into God’s hands, or must we take matters into our own hands? Explain.
- Should the elementary school shooting in Connecticut be the turning point in U.S. gun-control laws? What do you think it would take for gun-rights advocates to ever be open to new legislation? How might your generation become known for ending mass shootings?
- Is it okay to interfere with the rights of many people in order to save the lives of a few? Explain. Which of your rights do you value the most, and why? Are you willing to give any up for the sake of others? Why or why not?
- When have you or your peers said “enough is enough” about a problem or issue? What are the risks—and potential benefits—of taking action against a problem when not everyone agrees on a solution?
- What might Jesus say about the gun-control debate? When, if ever, does the Bible advocate violence? self-defense?
- How do you feel about the Aurora movie theater reopening? Would you ever be comfortable watching a film there? Is the reopening a symbol of moving on? Is it insensitive to families of victims who died there? Explain.
- How would you explain your stance on gun control to gun-rights advocates? to families of victims of gun violence? How can listening to opinions that differ from yours help shape or strengthen your own views?
Scripture links: Exodus 32:25-29; 1 Samuel 17:45-47; Psalm 107:28-30; Matthew 26:47-56; Luke 22:35-38; and Romans 14:1-4.