By Ann Jacob, Staff Writer
Last Tuesday, the Team 26, a group of 26 cyclists from Newtown, CT including the father of one of the children who was killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School last December and Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) arrived in Washington, D.C. after a four hundred mile bike ride from Newtown.
Team 26 is named for the 26 students and teachers who were killed in Newtown three months ago. When the group arrived in D.C. they were greeted by well-wishers, and their objective was to talk to legislators about gun reforms.
Ultimately, the goal of the Team 26 and the other group associated with Newtown, Sandy Hook Promise Innovative Initiative is “a ‘call for ideas’ to reduce gun violence and a commitment by leading venture capitalists and angel investors to fund promising innovations in gun safety, mental health research and related new technologies.”
David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times wrote a piece last week on the odd relationship between the decline in gun ownership and the increase in gun sales. He posits that this can be attributed to a fearful few Americans purchasing many guns, while most Americans stay away from guns. As Horsey reports, according to the General Social Survey, “the number of U.S. households with guns dropped from 50% in 1973 to 34% in 2012. This decline has shown up everywhere, including the historically gun-toting regions of the South and West.” The question remains: if gun ownership is declining and American views on guns and gun ownership is shifting, why not use this moment to develop consensus?
The New York Times created some graphs on American views’ on gun control in January, which illustrate that most Americans favor background checks on potential gun buyers, a national database of gun sales, as well as a ban on high capacity magazines. Also, most Americans favor stricter gun control laws.
So, if specific kinds of weapons that use high capacity magazines meant for the battlefield are used in mass shootings, why not limit those kinds of weapons? According to an article on Politico.com, opponents of gun control legislation, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) state that legislation to ban specific weapons would be violating the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which grants U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. However, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) put is best in the Judiciary Committee when she questioned how many guns Americans need. Sen. Feinstein has proposed a ban on “157 different models of assault weapons, as well as magazines containing more than 10 bullets,” which is set to come before the Senate soon.
The important part of the legislation that Americans who are opposed to such legislation need to keep in mind is that even though the bill may ban 157 weapons, there are still over 2000 guns that people may purchase legally, as discussed in the Rachel Maddow Show. The bill essentially is limiting or banning the types of weapons or magazines that have been involved in the most horrific mass shootings in the last few decades. Hopefully, the Senate and the House will come to a consensus on this issue, if not for the safety of our citizens and country, then at least for their own political futures.
By Ann Jacob, Staff Writer
With less pageantry and lots of speculation, after President Barack Obama addressed the nation in the State of the Union address last Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered the opposing party response. While the former is required by the constitution and given by every president since George Washington, the latter only became tradition in 1966. Is this tradition of granting the opposing party a platform to propose alternatives to the President’s plans effective? Should the response to the State of the Union be eliminated?
This year, the response Sen. Rubio gave has been affectionately dubbed, “Watergate,” for the sip of water the senator took towards the end of his speech. Many commentators have criticized the senator for not abiding by proper live broadcasting decorum, and rightly so.
However, what is even more significant than “Watergate” is the content of Rubio’s speech. The senator, who made headlines shortly before giving his speech for voting against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a “Senate bill [that] would provide services, like shelters and legal help, for abuse victims regardless of their sexual orientation or immigration status,” fell short on the high expectations many placed on him. He delivered a pre-planned speech that criticized Obama on policy goals on which they both agreed on or the president did not address. For instance, on Medicare, the senator called on the president to put out a new plan right after the president addressed Medicare in his address. Similarly, Rubio repeatedly urged the president for less spending and smaller government directly after the president urged Congress for more effective and efficient government. These instances might point to why the opposing party response in not an effective outlet to propose alternative ideas.
In fact, most of Rubio’s speech was similar to Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign stump speeches. With regards to energy policy, Rubio stuck to Romney’s stump speech about the need for more coal and oil. The only difference between the two politicians might be their backgrounds and life stories. However, even Rubio’s middle-class upbringing was scrutinized after the press learned that his house is on sale for $675,000. In addition, the second response to the State of the Union, given this year by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) only illustrated the fractured state of the Republican Party.
Among Boston University students, opinions of the speech were diverse.
Justin Kenney, a College of Arts and Science junior and member of the BU College Democrats, was skeptical of the content of Rubio’s speech.
“This is just a young face on an old message, and he was able to deliver that same message in a way that was more credible because of who he is and where he comes from,” said Kenney. “I don’t think the message itself was any different than what we’ve heard in the past four years. If you liked the old message, you loved what Senator Rubio had to say.”
However, for others the speech was moving and represented a new leader’s rise.
Sophie Miller, a College of Arts and Science junior and president of the BU College Republicans, advocated for Rubio’s content and delivery of the speech.
“I found it to be inspiring. He successfully pointed out the logistical flaws in President Obama’s proposals, particularly his economic policies and outlined better alternatives,” said Miller.
These contrasting perspectives of the speech are inevitable, and often lead to partisan bickering. However, the question remains: should the opposing party speech be eliminated?
Steve Kornacki, senior writer for Salon.com, proposed that the Chairs of both parties sit down and decide together to eliminate the response in an interview, he said on the Rachel Maddow Show.
I, for one, agree. The response does not boost the opposing party’s favorability. In fact, most times something goes wrong. Perhaps, Rubio should have taken some tips from PolicyMic.com prior to his speech and avoided providing SNL with comedic material.
Regardless of whether your attention was focused on “Watergate” or Michelle Obama’s lovely dress, the take away from Tuesday night hopefully was the bold and inspiring phrase the president repeated, “They deserve a vote!” This phrase not only got both parties in both chambers to stand and applaud for the many victims and families of gun violence, it demonstrated the power of the bully pulpit and the significance of the night. While the response to the State of the Union will continue to garner interest, it is in the interest of the opposing party to stand in solidarity with the president during the State of the Union address and eliminate the response.
Marco Rubio’s “Watergate” moment: