In the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting, gun control has taken center stage in both state and national politics. In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama must capitalize on his momentum to further the gun control debate. 

The attention gun control is currently receiving will not last forever – eventually people will begin to focus on other issues. Obama has laid out what he would like see in a gun control bill passed by Congress, such as imposing an assault weapons ban, limiting magazines to only 10 bullets and expanding mental health programs. In his State of the Union address, Obama must put pressure on Congress to start building tangible legislation from the gun control debate. 

A significant portion of the State of the Union address should focus the gun control debate. The president should give attention to the victims of gun violence, describe the benefits of stricter gun legislation and demand a time table for when the American people can expect to start seeing effective legislation.

Effective gun legislation that requires background checks, bans assault weapons and limits magazine capacities is possible, but Congress must act now. It is up to Obama to motivate the public to demand Congress pass gun control legislation, and he can begin this process with his State of the Union address.

Jared Mehre (jmehre@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science, sociology and legal studies.