Yesterday, President Obama put forth a set of executive actions and legislative proposals aimed at halting a continuing wave of gun violence that has bloodied communities in nearly every section of the United States.
The president responded boldly and swiftly, just one month after the most shocking mass killing in recent times, of 20 children and six adults by a gunman at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary. It was possibly his most Lincoln-like action to date, and it drew instant opposition from his critics and gun lobbyists.
President Obama announced plans drawn up on his orders by a team under Vice President Joe Biden's leadership. The proposal calls for congressional action on four key areas: law enforcement, availability of guns and ammo, school safety and mental health care.
"We can't put this off any longer," the president said as he signed an additional package of 23 executive orders to bolster the proposed legislation. He called on the American people to back him up by actively supporting his plans.
"We won't be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us to try," the president said.
Now is the time for everyday people to get behind him urgently, to get involved and let their voices be heard. For years the National Rifle Association (NRA) has dominated the issue of guns on Capitol Hill. The NRA has been bullying those members of Congress in red states to vote their way on just about any gun legislation that came to the floor -- using scare tactics like the recent ad that stooped so low as using the president's children to protest curbs on gun ownership and access. The NRA has clearly crossed the line.
What I have not seen on any of the 24-hour news is a farmer, rancher or landowner being interviewed. Farmers and ranchers have been noticeably scarce amid all the commentary and reaction I have heard as I closely followed the coverage of Sandy Hook and its aftermath.
So, I will offer this one farmer's perspective which I believe is shared by many of us whose voices deserve to be fully included.
As a small child I remember my grandfather had his rifle on a gun rack over his bed for protection, my father has a rifle in his home and today, being a farmer and living on a farm, I, too, own a 22-caliber rifle.
Most farmers are responsible and law-abiding, and they use their guns safely. Like most farmers I have a deep appreciation for the land and the animals who share the land. I respect the right to bear arms and support the Second Amendment.
But I question what the Sam Hill does a farmer or hunter need with an AR-15 or any assault weapon? What are you hunting that requires the need of a semi-automatic weapon -- an instrument used for military warfare? This defies common sense and it should be central during the gun debate.
This kind of extremism is part of the reason I do not have an NRA membership. I do not need one to exercise my constitutional rights under the Second Amendment.