Time for Obama to play hardball

Marty Solomon
Marty Solomon

President Barack Obama can single-handedly reduce gun violence and make Americans safer, something that Congress has been unwilling to do. Congress appears more interested in re-election than the lives of ordinary citizens. So something dramatically different is necessary for a safer America and that something is called hardball.

Here’s how it can work:

Step 1: Obama creates a manifesto of common-sense legislative imperatives.

This would include background checks for anyone buying or receiving a gun, even if it is Uncle George or a grandson. No friendly sales without background checks would be allowed at gun shows and nobody could gift a gun to another without a background check. In addition, no assault rifles could be bought, sold or imported in America without a stiff penalty. Assault ammunition such as armor-piercing bullets could not be bought, sold or imported. Assault rifles and ammunition are designed to kill people. There is no other use and citizens should never need such a weapon. Next, no one on a no-fly list or a terrorist suspect list would be able to purchase a gun without an additional interview. And straw purchases would be accompanied by stiff penalties.

Step 2: Obama would announce to the world and to Congress his manifesto and that he wants it enacted by Congress and sent to his desk within 30 days.

Step 3: After 30 days of inaction by Congress, the president goes on prime time TV Sunday evening, urging people to vote out any representative or senator who opposes a safer America and his manifesto, or who stands in the way of its passage, and announces a web site that lists each member of Congress to be voted out in the November elections.

Step 4: The president continues every Sunday with a new prime-time speech and a new web page listing all opponents, both Democrats and Republicans who remain unsupportive. In addition, the president urges all NRA members to drop their membership until and unless the NRA becomes a supportive partner in a safer America.

Since re-election is the holy grail for politicians, the best weapon is to threaten that grail. It turns out that Obama has the ball in his court because the majority of Americans want something done to reduce gun violence but don’t know what to do. Congress fears NRA retribution in the next election, so the president can use that same strategy to hit them where it hurts: at the voting booth.

It’s time to debunk the tired and trite NRA adages such as if more guns were on the streets, crime would drop. The Dallas experience blows a hole in that theory. In Dallas, dozens of armed police could not safely bring down a lone gunman. It took a robot.

Another sad mantra of the NRA is that slowing down immediate gun ownership is an abridgement of protected rights. Well, what about the right to not be killed in the streets? The NRA doesn’t seem to think that one is valid.

People need to realize that the NRA’s proposition that more guns make us safer is a monstrous lie, created to simply sell more guns. If more guns would make us safer, then the United States would be the safest place in the world. Instead it is one of the least safe. As reported in the American Journal of Medicine, compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States' gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher.

Yes, it’s long past time to stop pussy-footing around on this vital, important issue and only hardball seems to be a possible avenue for change. And while this prescription will not solve gun violence, it can make a dent. Go, Mr. President.

Marty Solomon is a retired UK Professor and can be reached at mbsolomon@aol.com