IT has been five weeks since the last mass shooting with a large number of fatalities in America.
Statistics suggest we mightn't have that window of calm before the next attack at a college campus, movie theatre mor school.
The website ShootingTracker.com details how 16 children were killed through gun violence in the weeks immediately before and after Christmas,
The satirical Wateford Whispers website this week ran a story headlined: 'Obama's New Gun Laws to Limit Gun Owners to One Murder per Year'.
It follows the president's move to finally put a marker down and limit access to firearms for people who should not own one. Obama deserves praise for grasping the thorniest of political nettles this time by using executive powers.
Among the measures he is introducing are: requiring anyone selling guns to conduct background checks on purchasers, including online and at gun shows; expanding checks on known criminals who are using trusts and companies to buy arms; making checks more efficient by hiring more people to do them and making the technology used more efficient; a proposal to boost FBI background check workforce by 50 per cent and to hire 200 new ATF agents and investigators; requiring tighter reporting of lost and stolen guns; reducing accidents by developing technology to make guns safer via trigger lock mechanisms; better protecting victims of domestic abuse by restricting gun sales to violent partners and requiring mental health records to be integrated into background check systems, Congress to invest nearly $700 million in mental health care.
In doing this he is showing strong leadership. With the economy buoyed and the lowest unemployment rate in recent history at 4 per cent, the timing is good for this bold move, which, on the surface appears to mark a big step forward in reducing gun crime in America, where so many Irish people live, work, holiday and spend summers.
Consider the facts and these measures transpire to be only a drop in the ocean. Currently there are 300 million guns in circulation in America. Three hundred million.
That's practically one for every citizen. The National Rifle Association has paralysed any hopes of Congress approving universal background checks and President Obama admitted in his speech that many of thes initiatives will not come into effect during his presidency.
What he has managed is to open a fulsome debate on the place of guns in modern societies where they are allowed by law, of which America is the paradigm. He has become the voice of reason in a country which often equates freedom with the right to bear arms. His tears while recollecting the killing of 26 children and adults in Newtown in 2012 were clearly genuine. Having being president over a four year period which saw thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of gun deaths in his country, he has made it his mission, along with kerbing environmental emissions and rebuilding the economy, to begin to undercut the NRA's power and to bring about a reduction in gun deaths, be it through gang violence, domestic violence or violence perpetrated by people who are mentally unwell. Although the changes he is implementing will not be a game changer in America, they will help address limiting access to weapons to people with mental health issues and ultimatley save lives.