Legislation necessary in wake of recent tragedies

President Barack Obama introduced a new legislative agenda and executive orders for greater federal gun control last Wednesday, which has left both sides of the debate fiercely supporting their values. Gun control advocates have looked to the President to endorse and implement stricter gun control, especially on assault weapons. However, pro-gun activists have called such measures unconstitutional and in direct violation of the Second Amendment.

It seems that now people agree that there needs to be some change to prevent massacres like the Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo. mass shootings from happening again. New legislation regarding the sale and use of firearms is a necessity in the wake of these tragedies.

One of the primary steps is to prevent the firearms already in circulation from getting into the wrong hands. This requires more efficient screening processes.

The President’s current proposal would support universal background checks on gun sales and would aim to form tougher gun trafficking regulations , thus increasing the likelihood of there being a paper trail between gun sellers and end users.

These measures, if enforced, could make a difference in the prevention of future gun violence and crime. Both sides have begun a conversation regarding background checks and mental health screenings. While there is fervent opposition to several aspects of the proposal, such as reinstating the ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, any bipartisan support at all for a gun control bill is a strong indicator that people realize changes need to be made to gun regulations.

Mental health evaluations are also a key factor in curbing future episodes of mass violence. Eliminating the social stigma of mental disorders, improving access to mental health experts, and improving training for such officials in the areas of warning signs and red flags are a major factor in preventing violence.

The legislation currently introduced makes steps in the right direction, but needs to ensure that Second Amendment rights are protected for U.S. citizens. Emphasizing the need to ensure that firearms do not fall into the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable should be the flagship goal of gun control efforts, as these efforts will do the most to create actual, responsible change in Washington.