Associated Press

January 16, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conceding “this will be difficult,” President Barack Obama urged a reluctant Congress on Wednesday to require background checks for all gun sales and ban both military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in an emotion-laden plea to curb gun violence in America.

The president’s sweeping, $500 million plan, coming one month after the school massacre in Connecticut, marks the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in nearly two decades. But his proposals, most of which are opposed by the National Rifle
Association, face a doubtful future in a divided Congress where Republicans control the House.

Seeking to circumvent at least some opposition, Obama signed 23 executive actions on Wednesday, including orders to make more federal data available for background checks and end a freeze on government research on gun violence. But he acknowledged that the steps he took on his own would have less impact than the broad measures requiring approval from Capitol Hill.

“To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act,” Obama said, speaking at a White House ceremony with school children and their parents. “And Congress must act soon.”

The President has announced that he and the administration will:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not
slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health-care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law-enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency-response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental-health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental-health-parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

The president’s announcements capped a swift and wide-ranging effort, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to respond to the deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. But Obama’s gun control proposals set him up for a tough political fight with Congress as he starts his second term, when he’ll need Republican support to meet three looming fiscal deadlines and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“I will put everything I’ve got into this, and so will Joe,” the president said. “But I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it.”

Key congressional leaders were tepid in their response to the White House proposals.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s office signaled no urgency to act, with spokesman Michael Steel saying only that “House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations. And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider gun violence legislation “early this year.” But he did not endorse any of Obama’s specific proposals.

The president vowed to use “whatever weight this office holds” to fight for his recommendations. He’s likely to travel around the country in the coming weeks to rally public support and could engage his still-active presidential campaign operation in the effort. But he’ll have to overcome a well-financed counter-effort by the NRA.

“This will be difficult,” Obama acknowledged. “There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty – not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.”

The president, speaking in front of an audience that included families of some of those killed in Newtown, said 900 Americans had lost their lives to gun violence in the four weeks since the school shootings.
“We can’t put this off any longer,” Obama declared. “Every day we wait, the number will keep growing.”

Many Democrats say an assault weapons ban faces the toughest road in Congress. Obama wants lawmakers to reinstate the expired 1994 ban on the high-grade weapons, and strengthen the measure to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the prohibition by making cosmetic changes to banned guns.

The president is also likely to face opposition to his call for Congress to limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

But Democrats are hopeful they can build consensus around the president’s call for universal background checks. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says 40 percent of gun sales are conducted with no criminal background checks, such as in some instances at gun shows or by private sellers over the Internet or through classified ads.

The NRA is opposed to all three measures. In a statement Wednesday, the gun lobby said, “Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected” by Obama’s efforts and the nation’s children “will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”
And on the eve of Obama’s announcement, the NRA released an online video accusing him of being an “elitist hypocrite” for sending his daughters to school with armed Secret Service agents while opposing having guards with guns at all U.S. schools.
White House spokesman Jay Carney called the video “repugnant and cowardly.”

The president’s proposals did include a $150 million request to Congress that would allow schools to hire 1,000 new police officers, counselors and psychologists. The White House plan also includes legislative and executive action to increase mental health services, including boosting funding for training aimed at getting young people into treatment more quickly.

A lopsided 84 percent of Americans back broader background checks, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Nearly six in 10
Americans want stricter gun laws, the same poll showed, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows.

The NRA and pro-gun lawmakers have long suggested that violent images in video games and entertainment are more to blame for mass shootings than the availability of guns. But Obama’s proposals do little to address that concern, other than calling on the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research links between violent images and gun attacks.

Government scientists have been prohibited from researching the causes and prevention of gun violence since 1996, when a budget amendment was passed that barred researchers from spending taxpayer money on such studies.

The administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for expanded research.

Obama also wants lawmakers to ban armor-piercing ammunition, except for use by the military and law enforcement. And he’s asking
them to create stiffer penalties for gun trafficking, to provide $14 million to help train police officers and others to respond to shootings, and to approve his nominee to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

One of the president’s executive actions on Wednesday was to nominate B. Todd Jones to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2006. Jones has served as the bureau’s acting director since 2011.

Other steps Obama took through his presidential powers include:

– Ordering tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks.
– Requiring federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
– Ordering a review of safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.

8 Comments on this post.

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  • Ryan Driskell
    17 January 2013 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Obama has began the beginning of his second term as an complete and total idiot that America can no longer trust. Stricter gun laws will not prevent gun violence in any way whatsoever. He has just boosted the price for blackmarketed guns is all he has done. America and especially the southern U.S. will not give in as fast as he thinks, he is going to have a much bigger fight on his hands then what he had when he signed the healthcare reform. He needs the Republicans help in the House throughout this next term and by doing this he has basically forfeited any help they may have been. My message to Obama is for him to get out of the White House and live one week in the shoes of a hardworking, true-blooded American, with no hand-outs or favoritism. He does not know what it is like to work a 40-60 hour week job doing back breaking work for a paycheck that barely pays the bills. Sure he may speak as if he can sympathize with us, but until you have lived it, you can not! Guns in our home is not used or bought with the intentions to injured or to kill innocent people, but to protect our family, life, liberty, or property, which most need to make a living, or to hunt for wild game out in the woods which brings most men and some women the only peace they may see all year long. I also believe that violent images are also not to blame, such as video games. Games are rated as well as movies for a reason, that way parents will use judgement and determine if their child or children are mature enough to see it. If parents are ignoring these ratings like I see a lot, where I work at a movie theatre, then it is no longer the governments or the regulations fault, it is the fault of the parent(s). By him signing this executive order, he has made local law enforcement’s even more difficult, whereas they could be doing what is needed to prevent things like that shooting in that school.

  • jr(catholic counter capitalist)
    17 January 2013 at 11:35 am - Reply

    I am so proud of President Barack Obama for doing something about the gun violence in America. In addition to GUNS, he needs to add SEX and DRUGS to the list, in my honest opinion, that are rampant in America. God Bless Barack Obama, God Bless America!

  • noz
    17 January 2013 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    obama is stomping on the second amendment of the constitution, a moronic action in power. obama do not understand a constitutionally run federal government. yes, it is not simply poor understanding, but a total incoherent on the right to bear arms. this is expected of obama who spends millions to shield his F grades, a passing grade, an affirmative action provision mandate to colleges/universities like harvard. obama’s record abuse of executive power is a record breaker dividing the nation and its people. obama’s executive orders are unpopular, controversial, poorly thought of, because obama do not possess a GOD given wisdom period.

  • JT
    17 January 2013 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    70% of our Iraq/Afgan veterans had mental issues. (PTSD) and 40% of our Soc Sec DI had also mental issues. When Statewide background check on gun owners will be implemented, get ready to surrender your guns….”Stop gun violence” was the major issues during Hitler time in Germany. The law abiding citizen JEWS turn-in their guns to the Gestapo.. Holocaust would had been prevented. Dems are anti-gun, GOP are pro-guns.

  • jr(catholic counter capitalist)
    18 January 2013 at 2:03 pm - Reply


    Bishop McGrath calls for gun control
    Posting Date: 01-15-2013

    The following is a statement by San Jose Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, issued Dec. 26, 2012, in which he calls for strict control of weapons for the common good:
    The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, has reminded our nation and our world once more that the proliferation of handguns, semi-automatic and other assault weapons is a threat to the life, health and safety of our nation.
    Newtown was not the beginning and it will not be the end. The recent statement by the National Rifle Association (NRA) calling for armed guards in every school is an invitation to a domestic form of “mutual assured destruction” (MAD).
    Just as the arm’s race of the last 60 years has not resulted in a safer world, so the proliferation of handguns, semi-automatic and assault weapons cannot keep our families and our children safe.
    As the world’s “super powers” continued to arm themselves, eventually to the point of “mutual assured destruction,” the threat of nuclear cataclysm or the possibility that some rogue nation or individuals might obtain and deploy nuclear weapons increased.
    Even now, reports of nuclear ambitions of nations such as Iran and North Korea continue. Disarmament has been preached as the new gospel, proclaimed by presidents of both major political parties. It is time now for radical change toward strict gun control, for another form of disarmament.
    When the framers of the Constitution included the “right to bear arms” among the freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of the United States, this nation was rural. It was truly a different time. Twenty-First Century American society does not resemble 1789.
    Perhaps it is time to consider curtailing this right. Individual freedom should be subject to the common good. If this were not the case, there would be no speed limits on our roads and highways, no crosswalks.
    It is time to admit that the free availability of guns and ammunition poses a threat to the welfare of our people and that a “culture of violence” has eclipsed “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as enduring values of this nation.
    I join my fellow bishops in calling on film producers and video game creators, to recognize the extent of violence in movies, television programs and video games, which have desensitized all of us. We must also address the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.
    It is time to change, to increase regulation, even to ban the possession of certain weapons. I echo the words of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, that it is necessary “to impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms. Limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.” (The International Arms Trade, 2006)
    In the end, violence itself is a form of domestic terrorism. Now is the time to hear the call to a new sanity. Now is the time to commit ourselves to following the Prince of Peace, who leads us along the path of life and hope.

    – The Valley Catholic

  • noz
    19 January 2013 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    bishop mcgrath, as usual consistently engaging on social controversial issues, instead of adhering to spiritual prayers teaching by the roman catholic church. traditional catholics have expressed opposition to bishop mcgrath with his statements, that catholics do not support anti-semitism, which is contrary to documents from the first vatican council. bishop mcgrath’s personal militant posturing caused intermittent protest in front of the steps of his residence from those who opposed his stance.

  • noz
    19 January 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    the problem is the mismanagement of the mentally ill rooted from the 60’/70′ path to deinstitutionalization, experts weighed in as helpful to less critical and non-chronic mentally ill patients, but the proof to date suggest detrimental to severely psychotic patients without follow ups for appropriate treatment and counseling. millions of chronically mentally sick patients are not taking prescribed medications, due to their own strong belief they are not mentally sick. mentally ill person in general are not violent, likewise sane people are not exempted, can be prone to violence, the so called respond to negative, unpleasant situation, may snap to hurt others. obama assaulting the second amendment of the constitution is not the answer to the mismanagement of the mentally ill of america. the answer is too easy to say, that is appropriate management of those with mental illness, with current research is highly treatable with chemicals aka medications to balance chemical imbalance of
    the human brain.

  • jr(catholic counter capitalist)
    2 February 2013 at 3:39 pm - Reply