President Obama's next campaign - against the gun lobby

 
President Barack Obama signs executive orders on gun violence flanked by children who wrote him letters 16 January 2013 President Obama marshaled the rhetorical power of child letter-writers in the statement

President Barack Obama called on Americans, from parents and teachers, to hunters and sportsmen, to say "enough".

He talked of a little girl, Grace, gunned down at Newtown, who loved the colour pink and the beach. A picture she drew now hangs in his private study.

The audience included parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Alongside him were children who had written to their president urging him to do something about the shootings.

If it seemed like a campaign speech, it was.

Campaign techniques

Conviction politicians campaign to win elections as a means to an end. That end is bringing about change. This time, Mr Obama isn't making the mistake of allowing the massive organisational operation that allowed him to win an election to go to sleep when the real job begins.

It is not just about TV props such as being surrounded by kids. It is about motivating grass-roots groups, bringing campaigners together, using the infrastructure of the election campaign to co-ordinate and organise.

Start Quote

These moves may seem small-bore compared to gun laws in many other countries but they are a very big deal here”

End Quote

The reason the president needs to use all the techniques of a campaign to get public opinion on his side is that powerful forces, representing many Americans, fear such changes are a danger to their country's basic values.

The battle over guns is part of a bigger war. But it is one that will last for years and could partly define the mid-term elections in 2014 and possibly the 2016 presidential race as well.

Many Americans may not be aware of it, but the scale of gun violence is one of the things that defines their country's image abroad.

Many in Britain and elsewhere in Europe simply don't understand America's reluctance to impose more restrictions on firearms.

They regard the argument that more guns mean more safety as the politics of the madhouse.

But it is not just the view from abroad. There is a gulf of incomprehension between the two sides in America too.

'The essential freedom'

The president wants to ban what he calls "weapons of war" and magazines that can hold many bullets.

Customers shop at the Guns-R-Us gun shop in Phoenix, Arizona, 20 December 2012 Guns sales have reportedly spiked since the Newtown shooting

He wants to make everyone buying a gun go through a background check. At the moment an estimated 40% of all gun purchases take place without a background check, because they occur between a buyer and a private seller, rather than a licensed firearms dealer.

He wants to lift a ban into government research into gun violence.

These moves may seem small-bore compared to gun laws in many other countries, but they are a very big deal here, and it is hard to see how the ban on assault rifles will get past Republican (and indeed some Democratic) opposition in Congress.

Gun owners I speak to aren't putting it on. They feel genuinely bewildered and believe that their rights as honest and law-abiding citizens will be restricted if the president gets his way.

America's relationship with guns is complex and divided. The opposition to new rules is not just the pragmatic objection of hunters and sport-shooters. For some, it is based on the fundamental belief that gun ownership is the essential freedom upon which all other freedoms rest.

President Obama knows this will be a long, hard battle, part of his determination aggressively to take on American conservatives and brand them as wild-eye opponents of common sense, acting against the interests of their country.

 
Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

Is Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy about to bring back Blairism?

Those on the left think new Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy could be about to take the party back to the days of Tony Blair, says the BBC's Mark Mardell.

Read full article

More on This Story

US gun debate

Related Stories

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 101.

    Link to this (Comment number 98)

    rate this
    0
    rate this 0
    Comment number 97.sieuarlu
    5 Minutes ago
    If we lived in an entirely peaceful world we wouldn't need guns...but we don't. Some people never seem to learn.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO725Hbzfls


    +++

    That didn't stop us from fighting for six years to win.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 100.

    97. sieuarlu
    What did it rule, I forgot?

    +++++

    Sums you up well that statement NOW NOW NOW LOUD BIG UNTHINKING, UNKNOWING

    How about a little food for thought, a time to consider and reflect, a reasoned conversation, a talking and listening exercise.

    Is that an arena you would dare to enter into

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 99.

    92.sieuarlu
    15 Minutes ago
    If they ever come back...we'll be ready and waiting for them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWkOeK5AmI8

    +++

    Even before Catrina and The Waves hit, New Orleans was falling down, they had people constantly testing the security of the tubes propping up the ceilings in the bars.

  • Comment number 98.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 97.

    If we lived in an entirely peaceful world we wouldn't need guns...but we don't. Some people never seem to learn.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO725Hbzfls

    Britain remains a sheep in lion's clothing. Didn't Britain once have a navy? What did it rule, I forgot? Oh yeah, the waves, the airwaves.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 96.

    93.Mike Ross
    9 Minutes ago

    What many Americans, and most Brits, don't realise is that so-called 'assault weapons' are defined by a list of purely cosmetic features. They're normal rifles which work and shoot EXACTLY the same as any rifle, they just LOOK military. Mutton dressed as lamb, and I swear that's the truth.

    +++

    The easy solution is to ban by specification not description.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 95.

    @
    12. JohnWV
    16TH JANUARY 2013 - 19:40
    Imagine now our country
    No more violent movies
    Or games or books or guns
    Or Amendments Two and One
    ++++

    An interesting observation on freedom, but do you think that you may be taking it a little to far.
    Private Citizens can't buy Nuclear Weapons or Publish how there made.
    Yet Amendment 1 & 2 are still intact
    Reasonable laws for Reasonable people, surely

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 94.

    I think in theory is that the peace abiding way of life is more defensible than the violent. You still take your chances with everything that's out there sooner or later it's not possible to prove if your beliefs will hold up in hypothetical scenarios. Can America touch it's toes and help a few vulnerable minorities and do some good I wish them only success in that if it's the right thing.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 93.

    Background checks? Makes sense.

    Magazines? Arguable both ways.

    'Assault weapons'? Complete red herring.

    What many Americans, and most Brits, don't realise is that so-called 'assault weapons' are defined by a list of purely cosmetic features. They're normal rifles which work and shoot EXACTLY the same as any rifle, they just LOOK military. Mutton dressed as lamb, and I swear that's the truth.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 92.

    If they ever come back...we'll be ready and waiting for them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWkOeK5AmI8

  • Comment number 91.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 90.

    87.BlaeceAelf
    4 Minutes ago
    Federalist No.28: Alexander Hamilton- " The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair."

    +++

    I.E. an ineffective disorganised pointless rabble.as defeated at Cryslers Farm.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 89.

    85.readwriteandblue
    9 Minutes ago
    In 1996, Congress barred research by the CDC that might "advocate or promote gun control."

    etc.

    +++

    Clearly US governement values truth. The trouble is that it values it so much that it wont let its citizens get their hands on it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 88.

    Contiue from post 85
    Ran out of characters to include the source

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/opinion/gun-reform-for-a-generation.html?hp

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 87.

    Federalist No.28: Alexander Hamilton- "If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government...The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair."

  • Comment number 86.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 85.

    The research issue.
    This was by a NYtimes Poster on the subject

    SocratesDowntown Verona NJ
    In 1996, Congress barred research by the CDC that might "advocate or promote gun control."
    In 2003, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives was banned from providing researchers with data on gun injuries and deaths
    In 2012, the National Institutes of Health was barred from funding gun research

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    William Rawle-A View of the Constitution..:
    "No clause in the constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretence by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both."

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 83.

    I am an independent voter, and gun owner. I own AR-15s as well as "traditional" hunting rifles, revolvers and semi auto pistols. Pre Obama's executive orders cover a lot of ground but in no way infringe my right to own a gun. Asking Congress to pass legislation on banning so called "assault weapons" and high capacity mags is not an issue - this will simply never happen.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 82.

    Actually, the right to keep and bear arms is not limited to militia. It is in fact and was intended to apply to individuals specifically as an individual right. It is also not limited to arms for sporting or self defense purposes as those arms it protects are also specifically intended to be used in battle.

 

Page 13 of 18

 

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.