Obama Asks Congress for Sweeping New Gun Laws

President Obama said the laws, including universal background checks and a renewed ban on assault rifles, would lead to "fewer atrocities like the one that happened in Newtown."


Alongside Vice President Joe Biden and a group of children who had written in support, President Barack Obama signed a proposal to Congress Wednesday to strengthen United States gun laws, including universal background checks, limiting the number of bullets in a clip, and renewing a ban on military-grade assault rifles.

"If America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown," Obama said.

He listed some specific measures, including a 10-round limit on magazines for firearms, and asked congress to confirm Todd Jones to fill the long-dormant role of chief for the Bureau of Alchol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) — and briefly mentioned other measures, including helping schools hire more resource offices and making sure mental health professionals have the tools they need. He suggested Congress should fund research into the link between gun violence and violent video games.

Assault rifle bans and universal background checks made up the core of his proposal.

"The type of assault rifle used in [the movie theater shooting in Aurora] has one purpose ... to pump out as many rounds as possible," he said. "Weapons designed for the theatre of war have no place in a movie theater."

The law already requires gun owners to run background checks, but federal authorities have struggled to enforce that law.

Obama said he believes Americans are ready, and that he has majority support — including 70% of the National Rifle Association, according to one poll — but that lobbyists and pundits have held laws back.

"There will be lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical all-out assault on liberty," he said. "Not because that's true, but because they want to generate fear, revenues or higher ratings for themselves. The only way we'll be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different."

Last month Obama asked Biden to come up with "concrete steps" to prevent mass shootings and the broader epidemic of gun violence. Biden's task force met with some Sandy Hook parents, including those of who was one of 20 students and six educators killed at the elementary school in the Dec. 14 shooting.

Other parents of children lost in the shooting have actively petitioned the White House to act.

"We recognize that no single law or reform will prevent targeted school shootings," said the parents of 6-year-old Noah Pozner in a letter provided to the Hartford Courant. "However, by enacting a wide range of reforms, federal, state and local governments can make our children much safer in schools."

Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, one of the first on the scene of the shooting, also asked the President to consider new legislation -- specifically, limiting access to the kind of heavy weaponry used by the shooter.

"We never like to think we're outgunned in any situation we're dealing with," he said in an interview with NBC News.

Sandy Hook parents and other Newtown community members have asked for changes in attitudes at the community level across the United States. The advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise launched a nationwide campaign Monday to enact "positive change" to prevent future shootings. While they have taken no official position on gun control — and Sandy Hook Promise representatives were not immediately available for comment on Obama's speech — members have listed policy change as one possible avenue.

“There are steps government can take. There are laws Congress can make,” said co-founder Tom Bittman Monday. "But we have to fundamentally change our approach."

Tim January 16, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Nothing will pass this Congress, not even the Senate. There are a number of Democrat Senators who remember what happened to their numbers in 1994 after the last gun control measures past... The NRA is still quite powerful despite what liberals think.
Paul Alexander January 16, 2013 at 07:46 PM
My favorite comment so far on Obama's gun law initiatives from Simon Black... "It's amazing that people have become so fearful, they are now abdicating one of the most fundamental responsibilities of humanity-- protecting and safeguarding our families." "Instead, many Americans are choosing to outsource this responsibility to the same folks who bathe them in radiation at airports, spy on their phone calls and emails, wage senseless wars in foreign lands... and have a horrible track record of screwing up everything they try to do." "Great idea, seems like a hell of a trade-off."
Rosemary C. January 16, 2013 at 08:22 PM
It is a different world now Tim. The NRA spent millions to defeat Obama, money not well spent. The majority of Americans, even Republicans believe we need stronger gun control. Like Obama said in Newtown, doing nothing is not an option.
Freddy January 16, 2013 at 10:05 PM
@Paul - You know why we "outsource" our security to the police and military... Because we're a bleeping nation of laws. Let's also "insource" our kid's education and home school all of our children. That way we can keep them safe. We'll also "insource" fire protection for our houses, while we're at it, and all have our own personal fire engines. Obama did not propose a single initiative that would prevent you (unless you're a criminal or mental) from owning a gun and "protecting" yourself. So, all of this baloney about "outsourcing" security is just that. The fact is that the proposals that we're made are about at least attempting to keep guns in the hands of responsible gun owners and making sure that the guns that are available are intended for "protection" or sport and not the mass killing of elementary school kids. Its really not that hard.
Timothy Kelly January 16, 2013 at 10:27 PM
This is Timothy Kelly I am also against guns in this nation, but I'm also for gun control and a ban on these assualt weapons due to the fact that I used one of the m16 machine in the air force and I didn't like it at all. Yes I'm an U.S. Veteran and I had to use the m16 for training purposes while in basic training. I two am for gun and a ban on these weapons for life keep your guns but only one that are a rifle with less than ten rounds and a pistol with less than ten rounds. I hope that president Obama gets this ban voted by our government and tell them save our lives for these weapons for good. Go get our legislatures on the same page. get our government and the NRA off our backs with there guns and killings of the american people out of our system. Go Mr. Obama...... I'm for you all the way.
Tim January 16, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Its not different in the western and conservative states.... wanna bet me on how senator joe manchin votes on an assault weapons ban? Obamas proposals are DOA in this Congress.
Ed Smith January 16, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Its a start but probably doesn't go far enough. The gun buy backs in Australia, coupled with strict restrictions on the type of gun an individual can own, might be worth a closer look. There is something very wrong in America when we have so many gun murders every year. More guns lead to more shootings. Whatever happened to the "well-regulated militia?" It doesn't exist, just people thinking they can shoot their way to safety. It is truly nuts.
Tim January 17, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Timothy, playing Call of Duty doesn't count as military experience. If you really are a veteran you would have the sense to know that civilians can not walk into a gun shop and purchase an M16 or any other automatic military rifle. Civilian model "military STYLE" rifles are semi-auto only and are NOTHING like actual military models. As for the magazines, whatever, I'm fine with ten rounds (I can reload in under 2 seconds anyway) but it's not going to solve anything. In fact it's incremental gun confiscation. NYS just went to a 7 round limit. Well, unless your handgun is a subcompact or a 1911, chances are magazines of a 7 round capacity simply do not exist. So now you have a gun you can no longer legally even use. Congratulations for selling out the rest of us law abiding gun owners.
Tim January 17, 2013 at 01:32 AM
According to George Mason, co-author of the Second Amendment, the "well regulated militia" is the American people. SCOTUS agreed in the Heller and MacDonald decisions. If you don't like it, propose a Constitutional Amendment to repeal it, but stop the politburo tactics to take away out guns illegally.
Mark J January 20, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Dear Rosemary C Doing nothing is not an option, but neither is trampling on the rights of others. Make reporting of escalating violent statments and actions mandatory by healthcare and law enforcement. Restore health care for the violently mentaly ill. And train and equip (I didn't say arm) school employees to deal with emergencies other than fire. The adults at Sandyhook both FAILED to protect the children, and died because they were not equipped nor prepared to succeed.


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