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Tuesday, Dec 18 2012 11:00 PM

Time to act this time, Mr. President

By The Bakersfield Californian

I am a schoolteacher. Like many others in my profession, I wake up every day with the intention of making a difference. I'm sure that was true of the educators who died in Newtown, Conn. Have I ever made a difference? I hope so, but some days I'm just not sure. I'm sure that's true for others like me and others in many professions who try every day, hope every day, and yet, may never see the fruition of their labors.

That's not true, though, for President Obama. He is uniquely positioned as the one person in the country who can wake up with the intention and go to bed with the certainty. How I envy that. I listened to his speech Sunday evening; I was moved to tears. Many of his speeches have moved me. It was his iconic speech on racism that moved me to support him. And support him I have, with dollars and phone calls, volunteer hours, bumper stickers and endless reading of countless campaign emails.

In Obama's speech, he expressed a sense of frustration; this is the fourth time, he said, referencing the number of consoling, post-massacre speeches he has written and delivered. This resonated with me: In my classroom I have discussed shootings from Paducah, Jonesboro, Columbine, Virginia Tech -- the list is getting too long, and I, too, am tired of it. However, I find I am equally tired of being moved by a speech Obama makes in the evening, only to wake up to another day of inaction. We are told that the president wrote his own speech, finishing it on the flight to Connecticut. Why, then, did he not take time to write a list of the changes that he can make with the stroke of his pen? He has referenced the "power of my office." Article 2 of our Constitution gives him the power to "recommend measures," to call and dismiss Congress, and it requires that he "take care" that laws are executed.

Obama's Justice Department has been working on new background checks for almost two years? Really? Congress gets to go home for Christmas? Really? I respectfully suggest -- no, I implore -- that the president use the power of the office he holds to make a difference on this issue. Not next month, not after an election, not after the fiscal cliff deal is made, but today, now, without delay.

Terri Richmond

Bakersfield

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