This week, President Obama signed 23 executive orders regarding gun control laws aimed at preventing what happened last month in Newtown. Connecticut.For gun control activists this announcement is music to their ears; but for the rest of us who believe and stand by our Second Constitutional Amendment to bear arms, well, this Executive Order decision does not sit too well. For starters, I believe America with its full democratic liberties should remain as such, one whose decisions are guided by the people and the power to govern does not rest on one individual alone, but through the checks and balances of the Senate and Congress. I believe our Constitution clearly guides and defines the rights and liberties of its people. Historically, there have been 13,000 Executive Orders recorded by the State Department since the early 1900's. These notable Executive Orders have made drastic changes in our policies, such as when Harry Truman integrated the armed forces under Executive Order. President Eisenhower used an EO to desegregate schools. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson used them to bar racial discrimination in federal housing, hiring, and contracting. President Reagan used an EO to bar the use of federal funds for advocating abortion. However, on the issue of gun control regulation, I don't think using an EO to strip us of the liberty to own a gun is the answer to putting an end to the horrific massacres we've witnessed as a nation. The issue is far greater than controlling just the purchase of firearms. There is the issue of mental illness and one I believe is at the core of what we, as a nation, are grappling with. The lack of federal and state resources available to treat mental illness is a contributing factor to an increase in mass killings. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) gave the USA an overall grade of D for its delivery of mental health care in a 2009 report. According to the NAMI, which details a state by state break-down on funding, California cut 21% from its total general fund mental health budget from 2009 to 2012. Space in state hospitals for general psychiatric patients is limited, because 90% of beds are used for mentally ill suspects awaiting trial or for sexual predators that have completed their prison sentences. There's also the issue of gang violence and guns: According to a report released last January, 2012 by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), National Violent Death Reporting System, using data from 2003 through 2008, the analysis looked at gang-related killings and other homicides in large cities in 17 states and found the highest level of gang homicides in five cities. Three were in California -- Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. According to the report's findings, drugs played less of a role than previously thought by the public. In other words, gang violence could be abated through the implementation of youth-violence prevention and intervention programs. Unfortunately, over the past several years funding for after-school programs and community centers has been drastically reduced forcing permanent cuts to these vital youth programs due to budgetary constraints. Focusing on 'gun control laws' only, that could potentially limit our liberties, rather than looking at a more global picture of the realities facing us and our youth today. It is just like the old saying: "we can't see the forest for the trees," and that is a dangerous thing.
********** Published: January 17, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 40