With staunch Republican opposition in Congress, President Obama has had an incredibly difficult time making any headway on gun control throughout his entire presidency. So with his last year in office now underway and shootings seemingly increasing by the day, Obama decided to bypass those congressional barriers to gun control reform, and instead revealed an executive action plan Tuesday. Though the reasons for this action are plenty, there is one statistic about gun control that makes Obama's announcement more pertinent than ever.
According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit corporation that provides verified tracking of gun violence each year, there have already been 124 reported deaths in the United States due to firearms this year. Just five days into 2016, and already 124 deaths. That's an average of nearly 31 deaths per day so far, and those numbers will only grow.
To break the statistic down a little further, Gun Violence Archive keeps a record of the total number of gun violence incidents. There have been 419 thus far into the year. Four of the people injured or killed in gun-related incidents were 11 years old or younger. Twenty-two were teenagers. There has already been one mass shooting this year as well. (It's perhaps worth noting that the numbers have already increased since this article was written.)
The numbers make it clear as day that Obama's executive action is not only timely, but completely necessary. According to The Washington Post, the plan will close the buying loophole for gun shows and online sales by requiring background checks for purchasers. In order to accommodate extra background checks, the plan will cover the hiring of 230 additional FBI examiners to process the checks around the clock. Additionally, the plan will include a budget for funding 200 new agents and investigators for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as well as a new rule under the agency that would require dealers who ship firearms to alert law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen during the shipment.
The plan also addresses mental health issues, which have been touted as a cause of gun violence on both sides of the political aisle. The plan proposes a new $500 million investment in increasing access to mental healthcare.
All of these measures will be instrumental in curbing additional gun violence this year. Closing loopholes will mean that fewer guns fall through the logistical cracks. Increased background checks will hold gun sellers, owners, and law enforcement officials more accountable. And increased access to mental health services is truly a win-win for everyone, whether they're a gun owner or not.
It won't stop every shooting from happening, but if even one person of the 124 who have already died this year could have been saved, then this executive action won't be for naught. Moving forward, it appears that it certainly won't be.