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April 18, 2015

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Obama unveils $500 million gun violence package


Susan Walsh / AP

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, left, hugs eight-year-old letter writer Grant Fritz during a news conference on proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington. Obama and Biden were joined by law enforcement officials, lawmakers and children who wrote the president about gun violence following the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last month.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 | 11:57 a.m.

Obama's Gun Control Plan

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, left, hugs eight-year-old letter writer Grant Fritz during a news conference on proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington. Obama and Biden were joined by law enforcement officials, lawmakers and children who wrote the president about gun violence following the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last month. Launch slideshow »

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced a promised gun control agenda Wednesday, pushing for dozens of changes and updates to current laws, including an expansion of background checks and a resuscitation of bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

“In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” Obama said of the recommendations. “No piece of legislation will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil. But if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, we’ve got an obligation to try.”

The proposals, according to Biden, are the result of 229 meetings he and other members of the president’s specially appointed task force had with stakeholders, ranging from members of the pro-gun lobby to victims of gun violence.

“Based on the emerging consensus we heard from all the groups with whom we spoke...we should do as much as we can as quickly as we can,” Biden said. “We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

But what counts as a good — or even an appropriate — response to gun violence is something about which there is little agreement in Washington.

The president specifically called on Congress to “restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and a ten-round limit for magazines” and vote to require “a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun.”

“These are common-sense measures. They have the support of the American people,” Obama said. “And yet that doesn’t mean any of this is going to be easy to enact or implement.”

While there are advocates for gun control in Congress — and the number expressing a desire to address the issue has increased since last month’s tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26, including 20 children — many still represent districts that have a strong culture of gun ownership and have been resistant to change.

Complicating the issue is that the split isn’t along party lines.

Many Democrats from rural states have been as resistant to the idea of gun control as leading Republican voices, while some Republicans from urban areas have been more in step with the president on this issue than with leaders of their own party.

And then there are a whole host of states that fall somewhere in between.

Nevada, for example, has an exceptionally strong gun culture, much of which revolves around hunting and sport-shooting. Nevada also has some of the nation’s loosest gun control laws. But Las Vegas has one of the highest rates of gun deaths per capita for urban areas.

Some members of Nevada’s congressional delegation have commented on the president’s plan to address gun control but not all have said how they would vote on key parts of it.

New Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford has said in the past he would support an assault weapons ban.

On Wednesday, Horsford again voiced strong support for the gun control and background checks that are the most ambitious components of the president's plan.

"Universal background checks can help prevent those who are legally prohibited from buying a gun from obtaining what can become a dangerous weapon," Horsford said in a statement released after the president's comments. "Military-style assault weapons do not belong on our streets, and neither do high-capacity magazines that are designed to inflict maximum damage."

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid committed to at least bring the president’s proposals up for debate in the Senate.

“I am committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence,” Reid said in a statement released Wednesday. “All options should be on the table moving forward.”

Reid did not say how he would vote on individual items in the president’s package that require congressional approval. Reid did not vote for the last assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller, meanwhile, has said he supports a discussion about violence and mental health but did not mention gun control.

Heller has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, which in the past month came out most strongly against Obama and his heretofore hinted-at gun control plans. Reid maintains a “B” rating.

Obama made a direct plea to constituents of places like Nevada in his announcement Wednesday.

“We’re going to need voices in those areas and those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and say, ‘This is important,’” Obama said. “It can’t just be the usual suspects...Ask them what’s more important? Getting the ‘A’ grade from the gun lobby...or giving parents peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?”

Spokespersons for members of the Nevada delegation did not immediately furnish responses to requests for reactions to the president’s speech.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said the speaker’s office would review the president’s recommendations, as well as any bills the Senate might pass.

Regardless of the challenges posed by Congress, Obama sought to get the ball rolling by signing 23 executive orders.

Among them are many steps that seem more clerical than anything else. Obama pledged to release a Justice Department report about lost and stolen guns, clarify provisions of the Affordable Care Act that could be relevant to gun control and encourage members of his cabinet to start a “national dialogue” on mental health.

But others could bring more significant changes right away.

Obama’s executive orders include a pledge to prosecute gun-related crimes more aggressively, provide incentives for states to share more information with the federal background check system and make it easier for schools to hire resource officers to monitor the mental health of students.

Obama also nominated a director for the long-rudderless Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, recommending Acting Director Todd Jones for the job. ATF hasn’t had a director for the last six years. Any nominee would still have to clear a divided Senate.

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  1. Have you read the 23 executive orders? Total fluff.

  2. Yea,this will stop gun violence. Sandyhook wasn't caused by a crazy kook who was off his meds...

    It's not the failed medical system Obama supports, that causes nut cases to go out and shoot up the schools and movie theaters. Its the gun laws!!

    Yea, tougher gun laws... That will stop it. Look at Chicago and their tough gun laws. Look how safe it is there. The home to our beloved Messiah...

    Surround yourself with duped children. Use them as pawns... Yea, thats the ticket!!

  3. "Using children as a backdrop for this show was right out of the communist playbook".

    Using children as a 'backdrop' for staged events is the favorite technique of American religion and the Nazi Government. The 1938 census showed that Germany was 40% Catholic and 55% Protestant. Don't focus all your attention on the Commies as there are much bigger surprises waiting in the Wings.

  4. Ahhh, yet again, President Obama, et al. has chosen one of the favorite strategies of the Islamic Terrorists, surround yourself with children when you intend to do harm to others. Then, it will be difficult for those who you have harmed to retaliate. Disgustingly brilliant.

  5. Nobody supports random violence, but expect this package to have as little effect as the cell-phone law does in Nevada. Want to correct any social challenge? Address the root causes first; put the burden of restrictions upon lawful citizens last.

  6. apparently obama didn't read these clearly before signing, little does he realize that #9 is already part of the was traced back to him and his croonies re; fast & furious..

    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."

  7. Such hypocrisy. Obama and all major political figures have armed guards. I dare them to lead by example and announce to the world that they will no longer allow their security teams to carry guns.

    Why is it okay for Obama's kids to have armed security but not my kids?

  8. 500 million for what? The headline gives no real answers. But makes no good headline.

  9. ...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

  10. I'm a gun owner and while I have no problem with more stringent checks and regulations, mandatory training and increased education regarding gun locks this won't cure the violence problem. the Virginia Tech shooter had two glocks and multiple ten round magainesand killed 32 people. The mass shooters there and at Aurora and Sandy hook were not stupid people. All were intelligent, escpecailly James Holmes. What will happen is the next shooter will adapt. They can steal a military style weapon or may already own one. They can simply use a handgun with multiple magazines and reload, all it takes is practice and you can reload easily. They can purchase an EN 5x7 handgun which fires powerful rounds. The will adapt and still kill people is that is their goal. Understand, I'm not saying something needs to be done and again I'm all for better restrictions and regualtions. My point is this in itself is only a starting point. many more issues will need to be addressed before we can say all is well. Even if we arm and train school police for every school in the country violence can still happen. But I'd rather have it and not need that not have it all. I still say we could envelope local school police into a national school police force under Homeland Security, as they did with Border patrol and Customs. We had funding for two wars, i believe we can find funding for our kids.

    Retired Army vet, resposible gun owner and ccw holder.

  11. The 14th Executive Order will be the most effective: "directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence." In my opinion, the other 22 orders are just fluff for fluff's sake.

  12. BTW - a big THANKS to hav1byte (Samuel jaramillo jr) for posting all 23 of the executive orders. Don't know why they were not posted in the article.

    Karoun Demirjian, is there a place where these are going to be posted on the Sun's web site? Or in the paper?

  13. It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword. I think it is reasonable to extrapolate "weapons" from "sword" and include guns as well.

    That said, there are many posters here who should be very thankful that speech is not restricted or even banned in the same way they would castrate the Second Amendment. (Although more than one poster here has called for exactly that kind of restriction on people who are not liberal.)

    After all, if the saying I referenced at the start is true, wouldn't be logical for the government to have the power to regulate that as well since speech is demonstrably more dangerous?

    I thought we had seen new levels of hate on display during the last campaign season from some who post here, but clearly we have only seen ripples on a very deep pool.

    It is the knowledge that there are people who actually hold some of these beliefs that is fueling the rush to buy arms.

  14. James Reza nailed it

  15. There are many things that influence people to shoot.

    While there are a significant number of fearful people in the general public, as evidenced here in some of the comments and elsewhere, there are also seriously mentally ill people.

    Schizophrenics, people with paranoia & delusions, veterans suffering from PTSD, unemployed people in panic states, deeply depressed individuals all are potential individual and mass murderers.

    Clearly, mental health services are an essential element to lowering these senseless murders that are on the increase.

    Some people who buy a gun suddenly get a new courage and are ready on the spot to use it to "protect" themselves. Guns can facilitate more violence just be instilling a false sense of power and security from ownership in some people.

    As media stirs the pot, it drives an engine that can set off such horrible events.

    Any form of communication, including the Opinions forums, can be partly responsible for violence. It depends on whether there are rational or irrational communications.

    Fear is the path to violence. That doesn't mean that common sense shouldn't be applied. The problem is some people can't recognize when the pass from rational to irrational fears. The latter are the people that concern me.

    There is no reason why sensible gun restrictions cannot be implemented, without endangering the 2nd Amendment.

    "The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual the right to possess guns in the home for self defense. They Justices also stated that this right is "not unlimited" -- elected officials may enact common sense gun laws to protect communities."

    I've heard the same paranoia about gun laws for some 50 years. All the fears expressed in the past are still being expressed, without any realization of those fears.

    However, there are lots of profits for gun and ammunition manufacturers, talk show hosts, advertising and media companies.

    In fact, there are big profits in manipulating people by fear.

    It is time to do some concrete and permanent regulations of guns, ammunition, background checks, and I would prefer that included comprehensive mental evaluations before gun licensing would be issued. That latter one is my wish, not something being considered.

  16. Add another category of dangerous gun owners. Those people unable to control their anger, who launch into rage. They may appear normal in all other ways but this, and become dangerous individuals with guns.

    It is important to not pass over the rage of these people. They can be in abusive relationships.

    It is no small thing to inform authorities when violence has occurred. It may be the only way one of these people gets mental health services before they go too far.

  17. About the ONLY THING that made sense was an EO suggesting local cops do background checks before returning confiscated weapons. Now, we could assume that this is not already SOP but it's probably just O. and Biden claiming "leadership" for things that are already Standard Operating Procedure. But then again, WHO returns CONFISCATED weapons?

  18. Reza 1:19: Would incarceration of the violent help? Violent "people" must not be allowed to do violence. It's not simply "mental health", at least not in this climate or medical state of the arts. Unless and until we have a practical means of scanning a person for propensity to put their interests before everyone else, we will continue to have violent crime. ANOTHER reason to cut back on social welfare--it breeds the violent mindset of me first, you never. I'm entitled to your money, food, housing, property. There doesn't seem to be ANY WAY to correct the mindset once acquired--some probably innate but compounded by welfare.

  19. Right on Rusty 6:43. As terrible as it may sound, you are simply not adult in your thinking if you cannot get your mind around this: Government is not the answer and cannot change mathematics--a reasonable taxation to provide for the common good does NOT include spending beyond your means. As precious as your children are, you cannot do more than all YOU can do. Buying into the hype that someone else can pay taxes for you to spend on your kids just will NOT work.

  20. Another waste of money for Ohbama, these little simple changes he thinks is going to change everything, absolutely will not work. The law abiding gun owners will have to pay the $500 million and will not affect the thug boys at all, because they don't obey the laws anyway. Senseless.