What Will Obama’s Legacy Be?

President Obama wins re-election on Tuesday. Photographer: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

Now that the long, bitter presidential campaign is finally over, President Obama can turn his full attention to the job of governing. Although his second term will no doubt be filled with continuing challenges — the looming fiscal cliff and struggling economy among them — it will also provide an opportunity for him to focus on issues that he personally cares about, unshackled by the prospects of yet another political campaign.

We believe that gun violence is — and should be — one of those issues. Although both recent presidential candidates barely mentioned guns and the more than 100,000 shootings that occur each year in America, in 2008, candidate Obama openly promised to fight for stronger gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons. In an op-ed he wrote for the Arizona Daily Star after the Tucson massacre in 2011, President Obama also expressed support for laws requiring background checks on all gun buyers. And in an address to the National Urban League following the Aurora movie theater slaughter, the President reiterated his support for both types of laws, acknowledging the tragic daily impact gun violence has on communities across America and lamenting that:

Every day — in fact, every day and a half — the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater. For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orleans. For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland. Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest towns. It claims the lives of Americans of different ages and different races, and it’s tied together by the fact that these young people had dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short.

While President Obama’s public statements about firearm violence — the few that there have been so far — reflect his concern about the issue and his support for laws that keep our communities safe, those words have not yet translated into any meaningful action. Gun sales soared leading up to and during Obama’s first term after the NRA and other pro-gun groups claimed that the President had a “secret plan” to ban all guns. Of course, that never happened, and never could happen, either legally or politically. Ironically, the only legislative action President Obama has undertaken on guns during his presidency is to sign a bill allowing guns in national parks, despite the fact that the American public — including most gun owners — support a wide range of laws that can and do save lives.

President Obama must now consider how he wants to be remembered by history. Is he willing to be remembered as yet another politician who witnessed mass shooting after mass shooting, yet failed to act on the basis of political expediency? Or will he stand up for what he and the country believe in – -the right of all Americans to live in communities free from gun violence — and finally show true leadership on this issue?

We Have the Right to be Free from Senseless Acts of Violence

We stand with the survivors and victims of the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine, in remembrance of the anniversaries of those tragedies. Over the last couple of months we have witnessed the terrible shootings in Ohio, Oakland, and Oklahoma—and the nation has watched the details of the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin unfold in Florida. No doubt at this time next year, we will be marking those tragic anniversaries as well.

When 87 people die from guns EVERY DAY in America, EVERY DAY is an anniversary of too many people dying by gun violence. The media spotlight often shines brightly yet briefly on mass shooting events, but for the families, friends, and community that surround each life lost by gunfire, the pain of grief is permanent.

We should not accept that life can simply be cut short. The shooting at Virginia Tech, like most shooting tragedies that occur daily in the United States, was preventable. That’s why we’re committed to fighting to prevent gun violence, advocating for sensible legislation and education on firearms, and ensuring victims and their families have the support they need.

When will we stand together and demand our communities’ right to be free from senseless acts of violence by supporting stronger gun laws? Continue reading

Action Alert: Let Your Voice Be Heard & Keep Guns Off Campus!

We are alarmed to report that legislation has recently been enacted in Mississippi, and is currently pending in 14 more states, which would change current law to allow concealed weapons on college campuses. In addition, one state – Utah – already requires colleges to allow firearms on campus.

The gun violence prevention community opposes state government’s efforts to allow carrying of firearms by students, faculty or staff. We must urge our elected officials to vote against any bill permitting guns on campus. The Law Center supports preserving college campuses for education and believes firearms create an unacceptable risk in the college environment.

Saturday, April 16th is the fourth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. Today, to honor the victims of that tragedy, we are joining with thousands of others in a national call-in day, organized by The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, asking governors across the country to oppose this dangerous legislation. While California has no proposed laws of this type, we still urge you to call Governor Brown to let him know where you stand on the issue, and ask him to oppose any future attempts to bring guns on campus. If you live in a state where this legislation is being advanced, or if you have children or friends attending a school in these states, please call your governor now to ensure that your voice is heard.

Call Your Governor Now!