One month and a few days after the Newtown massacre, President Barack Obama today announced from the White House his comprehensive plan designed to help stem the tide of mass gun shootings and gun violence that have been plaguing the nation.
The 26 shooting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 proved to be the turning point for the president, and the catalyst for his desire to formulate and enact a new set of policies regarding gun control and reform.
“I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality. Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence – if even one life can be saved – we have an obligation to try.” ~ Barack Obama, The White House
For his announcement today, the president’s audience and guests included families who lost loved ones to gun violence, elected officials, and school children who had written letters asking him to do something to prevent more senseless massacres like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School
The president’s plan will cost in the neighborhood of $500 million, and combines 23 Executive Actions with a set of proposals that he’ll be bringing before congress, according to the White House.
The President will be seeking congressional support for his plan’s proposals to:
- Eliminate all loopholes and require a universal background check on anyone trying to buy a gun,
- Restore the ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines, and
- Create tougher penalties on people who buy guns with the express purpose of reselling them to criminals.
Here are the 23 Executive Actions the president already signed off on via executive privilege, actions not requiring congressional approval:
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
- 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.
- Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
- 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.
- Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
- Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
- Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
- Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
- Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
- Nominate an ATF director.
- Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
- Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
- 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.
- Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
- Release a letter to health-care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law-enforcement authorities.
- Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
- Develop model emergency-response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
- Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental-health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
- Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
- Commit to finalizing mental-health-parity regulations.
- Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
The president went on to say that he’s fully supporting the Second Amendment rights for individuals to bear arms, and that he believes we all have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure guns are used safely.
Excerpt from Barack Obama’s announcement today:
When I visited Newtown last month, I spent some private time with many of the families who lost their children that day. And one was the family of Grace McDonald. Grace’s parents are here. Grace was seven years old when she was struck down -- just a gorgeous, caring, joyful little girl. I’m told she loved pink. She loved the beach. She dreamed of becoming a painter.
And so just before I left, Chris, her father, gave me one of her paintings, and I hung it in my private study just off the Oval Office. And every time I look at that painting, I think about Grace. And I think about the life that she lived and the life that lay ahead of her, and most of all, I think about how, when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now -- for Grace.
For the 25 other innocent children and devoted educators who had so much left to give. For the men and women in big cities and small towns who fall victim to senseless violence each and every day. For all the Americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm. Let’s do the right thing. Let’s do the right thing for them, and for this country that we love so much. (Applause.)
Thank you. Let’s sign these orders. (Applause.)
(The executive orders are signed.) (Applause.)
All right, there we go. (Applause.)
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