The highlight of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night was his call to action for a vote on gun control legislation.
Here’s the excerpt:
“It has been two months since [the Newtown, Conn. mass shooting]. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans—Americans who believe in the Second Amendment—have come together around common sense reform. Like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough, new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking [for] our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because … these police chiefs, they’re tired of seeing their guys and gals being outgunned. Each of these proposals deserves a vote in congress.
“If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun. More than a thousand.
“One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house. Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
“They deserve a vote,” the president repeated to a crescendo of clapping hands. “[Former Rep.] Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of [Aurora, Colo.] deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, Wis.], and [Tucson, Ariz.], and [Blacksburg, Va.], and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence—they deserve a simple vote.”
Time will tell whether the 113th United States Congress will heed the president’s plea, but one thing is certain, unfortunately: gun-related deaths in the United States are too common an occurrence. According to GunPolicy.org, there were 32,163 gun-related deaths in this country in 2011. Of those deaths, 19,766 were classified as suicides and 11,101 as homicides.