President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled an aggressive set of gun-control measures as he launched a push for the most sweeping changes to firearms laws in nearly two decades and called on the American public to join his fight.Continue reading.
The president—rolling out his plan at a White House event where he was joined on stage by children who wrote him in the aftermath of the shooting spree last month at a Connecticut elementary school—urged Congress to ban certain types of semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines. He also called for universal background checks for all gun buyers—a measure that would eliminate a loophole in the law that allows individuals to buy guns from nonlicensed sellers without a check.
Mr. Obama acknowledged that many of the proposals will be difficult to get through Congress, but he said he would use "whatever weight this office holds" to get gun laws changed and urged citizens across the country to reach out to lawmakers to bring about changes to gun laws.
He said the killings of 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., demands action. "This is our first task as a society—keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change," Mr. Obama said as parents of some of the children killed stood by him. He added, "I will put everything I've got into this…but the only way we can change is if the American people demand it."
The president also unveiled 23 executive actions he signed after his remarks, including requiring the federal government to trace weapons recovered in criminal investigations and providing incentives to schools to hire health counselors and police officers. All told, the president's actions and proposals would cost about $500 million, according to a senior Obama administration official.
Banning certain types of weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other steps, will face a battle in Congress. National Rifle Association officials have predicted that Congress won't pass legislation to ban high-capacity magazines and a group of semiautomatic rifles often called assault weapons, and many lawmakers have said many of the president's recommendations will face strong opposition.
The president sought to blunt criticism from gun-rights groups. He said he respects the country's "strong tradition of gun ownership" but that the recent spate of mass shootings required action. "We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible law breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,'' he said.
As always, there's a huge response at Memeorandum.
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