President Barack Obama evoked a string of other government regulations in making his case for his gun control action, framing the hot-button guns issue as one of practical, common-sense reform and where technology can help. He compared his proposals to reducing traffic accidents or walking through a metal detector before boarding an airplane. Obama also talked about his executive action as a continuation of social justice movements. Invoking Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Obama said "we need to feel the fierce urgency of now."
Here were eight such appeals to history and pragmatism that Obama used in making his argument:
Yelling Fire in a Theater:
"We all believe in the First Amendment, the guarantee of free speech. But we accept that you can't yell fire in a theater."
Knife Violence in China:
"We know we can't stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence. Some of you may recall that the same time that Sandy Hook happened a disturbed person in China took a knife and tried to kill with a knife a bunch of children in China. But most of them survived because he didn't have access to a powerful weapon. We maybe can't save everybody but we can save some."
The Metal Detectors Example:
"We cherish our right to privacy but we accept that you have to go through metal detectors before being allowed to board a plane."
Traffic Accident Metaphor:
"We maybe can't save everybody but we can save some. Just as we don't prevent all traffic accidents but we take steps to try to reduce traffic accidents."
The Smartphone Fingerprint and Lost Tablet Model:
"We need to develop new technologies to make guns safer. If we can set it up so you can't unlock your phone unless you got the right fingerprint, why can't we do the same thing for our guns? If there's an app that can help us find a missing tablet that happens to be off ... If we can do it for your iPad, there's no reason you can't do it with a stolen gun."
The Medicine Bottle Example:
"If a child can't open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can't pull a trigger on a gun."
The Freedom of Worship, Assembly and Pursuit of Happiness Example:
"Second Amendment rights are important but there are other rights that we care about as well, and we have to be able to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. And that was denied to Jews in Kansas City. And that was denied to Muslims in Chapel Hill and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights, too. Our right to peaceful assembly: That right was robbed to moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette. Our unalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg and from high schoolers in Columbine and from first graders in Newtown. ... And by the way it happens on the streets of Chicago every day."
Taking the Long View on Progress:
"But a lot of things don't happen overnight. The women's right to vote didn't happen overnight. The liberation of African-Americans didn't happen overnight. LGBT rights was decades worth of work. So just because it's hard, that's no excuse not to try."