Obama’s Gun Initiatives

From left to right: Hinna Zeejah, 8, Taejah Goode, 10, Julia Stokes, 11, and Grant Fritz, 8, who wrote letters to President Barack Obama about the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., watch as Obama signs executive orders to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak).

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, talks about proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak).

Courtesy of Reuters President Barack Obama proposed a new assault weap-ons ban and mandatory back- ground checks for all gun buyers this week as he tried to channel national outrage over the Newtown school massacre into the biggest U.S. gun-con- trol push in decades. He is taking 23 executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence that do not require congressional action, includ- ing measures to encourage schools to hire police officers and improve efforts to pros-Chauncey Bailey Memorial Near White House ecute gun crime. Rolling out a wide-ranging plan for executive and legislative action to curb gun violence, Obama set up a fierce clash with the powerful U.S. gun lobby and its supporters in Congress, who will resist what they see as an encroachment on constitutionally protected gun rights. Obama presented his agenda at a White House event in front of an audience that included relatives of some of the 20 first-graders who were killed along with six adults by a gunman on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. “We can’t put this off any longer,” Obama said, vowing to use “whatever weight this office holds” to make his proposals reality. “Congress must act soon.” The proposals stem from a month-long review led by Vice President Joe Biden, who on orders from Obama met with advocates on both sides, in- cluding representatives from the weapons and entertainment industries. Obama’s plan calls on Congress to renew a prohibition on assault weapons sales that expired in 2004, a requirement for criminal background checks on all gun purchases, including closing a loophole for gun show sales, and a new federal gun trafficking law long sought by big-city mayors to keep out-of-state guns off their streets. He also announced 23 steps he intends to take immediately without congressional approval. These include improvements in the existing system for background checks, lifting the ban on federal research into gun violence, putting more counselors and “resource officers” in schools and better access to mental health services. The most politically contentious piece of the package is Obama’s call for a renewed ban on military-style assault weapons, a move that Republicans who control the House of Representatives are expected to oppose. The Newtown gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, used a Bushmaster AR-15 type assault rifle to shoot his victims, many of them 6- and 7-year-olds, before killing himself. The National Rifle Association has launched a scathing advertising campaign against Obama’s gun control effort and deployed its representatives in force on Capitol Hill. Polls show that public sentiment shifted in favor of increased gun-control measures after the Newtown shooting, and Obama hopes to take advantage while there is a mood for action in Washington. Obama acknowledged the political challenges but made clear that he is prepared to take on the NRA, despite its widespread support among Republicans and significant backing among Democrats. He warned that opponents of his effort would try to “gin up fear” and urged lawmakers to think more about the safety of schoolchildren than trying to “get an ‘A’ grade from the gun lobby that supports their campaign.”
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