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 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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