In My Words: ‘What should Obama say about guns?’

In a newspaper guest column, Associate Professor Anthony Hatcher writes a suggested presidential televised address to the American people.

Associate Professor Anthony Hatcher


The following column was published recently by the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News via the Elon University Writers Syndicate.


What should Obama say? On guns, a modest proposal
By Anthony Hatcher –

Dear Mr. President:

I know you are busy running for reelection and preparing for your convention in Charlotte. I also know you are probably eager to make a televised address to the nation about gun violence but are short on time, so I have taken the liberty. You’re welcome.

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

Yet again, our lives have been rattled by reports of a public shooting, this time in daylight on the streets near the iconic Empire State Building in New York City. Before that it was a movie theater in Colorado, and earlier this year there was a workplace shooting at a lumberyard in North Carolina. We know that those with evil intent will find a way to get their hands on a weapon and do harm.

Let me state this unequivocally – guns are not going away. Like freedom of speech, religion and the press, guns are specifically mentioned in the United States Constitution. Reasonable people can disagree about the meaning of the Second Amendment clause, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,” but gun ownership is a part of our nation’s founding document.

Contrary to some disinformation campaigns, there has been an expansion of the rights of gun owners while I have been in office. A law passed by Congress that took effect in February of 2010 allows visitors to our National Parks to carry loaded weapons. After the law passed, the National Rifle Association encouraged a run on guns and ammunition, suggesting that my administration would curb gun rights. No such action has taken place. I have had four years to do so, and gun owners have more freedom than ever.

After the recent midnight tragedy at the theater in Aurora, Colorado, there again was a buying frenzy at gun shops out of fear for personal safety. Reliably, the NRA once again said I would seek to curb legal gun rights. And they were wrong again. Instead, after a recent Colorado State Supreme Court ruling, students at the University of Colorado in Boulder over the age of 21 may bring their concealed carry weapon to college along with their iPods and computers, as long as they’re permit holders. I have no interest in thwarting this state law, no matter how wrong-headed I may consider it to be.

My beloved hometown of Chicago has seen more than 350 killings this year, many of them due to Mexican drug cartels on American streets. This is an issue I will address with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, as well as with newly elected Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The United States is a stressed country. We are stressed by too many wars, too many soldier suicides, too many shootings. As your president, I ushered the Affordable Care Act through Congress. This legislation, derided by critics as “Obamacare,” provides mental health and substance abuse benefits equal to medical and surgical benefits.

When I receive such unwarranted criticism, I am comforted by the words of Thomas Jefferson from his first inaugural in 1801: “I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground.”

Those who say I want to take away America’s right to gun ownership, and who criticize the very things my administration has done to curb violence in this country, are flat wrong. These self-appointed authorities impede progress and do literal harm to the country by dividing the fabric of our national community with their fear mongering and lies.

Many shootings have underlying causes that can be dealt with in creative ways. These include easier access to substance abuse treatment, more drug courts, and better drug education in our schools. I ask you to join me in finding creative solutions to difficult and sometimes deadly problems.

I look forward to speaking to you from the podium at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Together, we can make this a better country. Onward.


Elon University faculty with an interest in sharing their expertise with wider audiences are encouraged to contact Eric Townsend ( in the Office of University Communications should they like assistance with prospective newspaper op/ed submissions.

Viewpoints shared by this syndicate are those of the author and not of Elon University.

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