In today’s Boston Globe, Northeastern professor James Alan Fox boldly claims President Obama has not yet followed through on the promise of gun control. Specifically pointing to a provision on federal databases, known as the Tiahrt Amendment, Fox rightfully claims notes that the repeal of this restriction was part of the President’s campaign platform and has yet to be acted upon.
The Brady Campaign recently agreed with this sentiment and gave President Obama an “F” in every aspect of preventing gun violence. In a rather scathing review of the last year, the organization says “his Administration’s extraordinary silence and passivity has allowed the gun lobby to move its agenda forward.”
In order to get the largest legislative accomplishment of this Congress passed, health care reform, the Administration surely did not want to burn any bridges with Conservative Democrats whose vote was crucial to the final passage. An amendment ending a ban on mentally unstable Veterans purchasing firearms by Sen. Tom Coburn showed the likely vote breakdown in the Senate – 6 Democratic Senators joined Republicans in voting for the provision.
Now with the passage of health care reform behind the Administration, there is an opportunity to keep the promises of the campaign for strengthening gun laws and standing up to the powerful gun lobby. However, enormous political capital has been spent for this year and a half long legislative hurdle and it is unclear how many promises have been made on this and many other progressive issues.
Democratic policy makers should be reminded of the research behind reducing gun violence. Thankfully, Harvard comes to the rescue (yet again) with this Firearms Research Database. Launched last week, this is a helpful tool to analyze academic research related to firearms and could easily eat up several hours of your life. Be warned, academic paper nerds.