My fellow Americans,
Today, we are broken-hearted. We are devastated by the sheer cruelty of Friday’s atrocities, and we may be wondering how we can ever heal. Tonight we all grieve with the community of Newtown, Connecticut.
But since I’m the President of the United States, I don’t doubt that you want something from me more valuable than my grief or my sympathy. You want a plan for change. I’m here tonight to give it to you.
There will be some who try to immediately silence any talk of the future, some who will accuse me of “politicizing” this horrible, horrible tragedy. Well, I’m a politician, and if I didn’t come up with political strategies for confronting our epidemic of gun violence, I wouldn’t be doing my job. The time to talk is now, not once those removed from the tragedy have forgotten about it, not at some vague “later” moment, that, as we’ve learned from the other terrible mass shootings in recent months, never ends up happening.
So here are some of the big points of my plan. Gun lovers, listen up, ’cause this applies to you.
If you want to own a hunting rifle, all right. We’ll be implementing more background checks and longer waiting periods and things like that for everything stronger than a sling shot, but you’ll still be able to shoot at deer in the woods if that’s your thing. If you want to own a handgun, if you want to, statistically speaking, make it astronomically more likely that your home will become a place of murder and/or suicide, it’ll still be possible for you to live that particular dream, but boy, are you going to have to jump through some hoops. I’m talking gun safety courses, extensive background checks, hopefully the proliferation of technology that will only allow the gun to be fired by the registrar. If you want to own a piece of military technology, a semiautomatic or some such nonsense, no dice. Rest assured, I will have assault weapons banned by the end of my presidency.
For millions of you to whom this comes as a huge relief…to the roughly half of Americans who have waiting to hear news like this for a long time: you’re welcome. To those who are suddenly furious with me, you’ve been making the same stock arguments for decades now, so I’ve got them memorized. Let me help you out:
“Only criminals will have guns!” Guess what, upstanding citizen? If you are dead-set on owning a device whose only function – whose ONLY function – is to kill hundreds of people in a matter of minutes, than you are, in my mind, a potential criminal. Do you think the monsters of Newtown, Oak Creek, Portland, Aurora, Virginia Tech, and Littleton saw themselves as thugs? My guess is they saw themselves as Big Damn Heroes, just like you. Trust me, Batman, you’re not doing the police any favors by taking your concealed weapon everywhere you go. You’re not making the streets any safer.
“How else will we fight against our own government?” Okay, for real, this one makes me laugh the most. Do you read the paper, ordinary Americans? Do you have any idea how much firepower I, the President of the United States, hold in my hands? If you’re concerned about executive overreach (and, if I’m being honest with myself, you probably should be, some of that crap is pretty out of hand), you should keep pushing for more accountability and transparency in our security agencies, repeal of the Patriot Act, Supreme Court Justices that won’t okay everything I do, more of those Checks and Balances things you learn about in school. What you shouldn’t do is try to use your guns to keep you free. Trust me, if I wanted to be a tyrant, you and your sad little bunkers would not matter at all. You do realize that I have flying robot murder machines, right?
“The Second Amendment!” To those of you concerned about the Second Amendment, let me assure you that you will still be able to procure a single-fire musket, if you can demonstrate to me that you need it to keep the king from quartering his troops on your plantation. Give it up. I was a constitutional law professor. You think I don’t have the entire Bill of Rights completely memorized? The right to bear arms is given in the context of a “well-regulated militia.” We can split hairs over what makes for a legitimate militia (and I plan to) but I promise I am going to crack down on the “well-regulated” end of the puzzle.
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“Just cutting down the number of guns won’t solve the problem!” Now this argument is actually one hundred percent correct. We need more changes as well. We need to improve our mental health care, improving our ability to diagnose, de-stigmatize, and treat mental illnesses. We need to fight systematic racism and income inequality, two pervasive issues that are strongly correlated with high violence rates. We need to take a good hard look at our entertainment industry. We need to reevaluate our criminal justice system, our police forces, our military, our entire culture of guns and violence.
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This is all more work than can happen in a single Presidency…perhaps more than can happen in a generation, but I stand before you tonight, and vow to be a part of the change. The rest of the change will happen with you; with how you talk about conflict and disagreement, with how you vote, with how you teach your children, with how you live your lives. It’s so very hard to be hopeful right now, but I dream that one day, we will heal. Even more importantly, I dream that one day, we will learn.
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