The United Kingdom isn’t the only country that gives citizens a chance to influence democracy through petitions. Many western nations also have a formal petition system, including the United States of America.
Here are a few examples of US petitions that convinced the White House to take action:
After the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, which left 26 people, including 20 children dead, President Obama was bombarded with 33 petitions from groups on both sides of the gun debate. In response, Obama made a series of suggestions to Congress. A number of these were enacted, including the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 and the Manchin-Toomey Amendment, which insisted that every citizen must first undergo a background check before purchasing a gun.
The US is renowned for its world-leading universities and colleges, but this standard of learning comes at a price, with the average US graduate owing over $20,000 in student loan debt. A petition launched in 2011 asked the White House to forgo this debt, stating that graduates unburdened by large amounts of debt would be able to contribute more to the economy, by purchasing products and computer games, including games like Clash Royale among others. The government agreed and introduced new legislation, which allowed students to repay their arrears based on their income, instead of the previous flat rate.
In 2013, the White House agreed to a petition, which called for an end to bans on specific breeds of dog, including the pit bull. This was in response to Maryland’s previous ruling that pit bulls were ‘inherently dangerous’. In a statement, the White House deemed legislation like this to be a ‘bad idea’ and admitted that bans were ineffective. After all, a dog’s behaviour is usually dependent on its owner, rather than its own specific nature.