The most emotional and powerful moment of Obama’s State of the Union speech came towards the very end, as the president zeroed in on the issue of gun control.
“They deserve a vote,” proclaimed the president, referencing the tens of thousands of victims of gun violence from the last year. “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote,” continued the president, “the families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.”
Obama's delivery was strong and the message was brilliantly crafted. By focusing on the victims of gun violence and calling for a simple vote, the president forced Republicans into the position of having to oppose a vote on gun control legislation rather than opposing the measures in the bill itself.
Barely mentioning any specific weapon bans, Obama instead focused on qualifying gun control efforts. “No laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I've outlined,” said Obama. “If you want to vote no, that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote.”
With public opinion overwhelmingly in favor of proposals like universal background checks and high capacity magazine bans, expect to see some serious movement on these issues in the immediate future.
The new assault weapons ban, mentioned by Obama in passing (and not by name), is also sure to get its fair share of attention but the Democratic leadership will most likely jettison the losing battle of banning specific weapons, instead proposing more limited reforms in an effort to appear reasonable while still securing legislative results.
See the biggest take-aways from Obama's 2013 State of the Union speech here.