The day after New York passed some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, President Barack Obama signed a package of 23 executive orders that set parameters to reduce gun violence in the wake of several devastating shootings last year.
Seeking the recommendations of Vice President Joe Biden, the president put forth a push for background checks to prevent criminals from accessing firearms, school support for resource officers to work on emergency preparedness and guides for mental health workers with spotting and reporting threats of violence.
“[I] will sit at that desk,” he said, “and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.”
Obama announced the plan 33 days after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown. In attendance were children from across the country who wrote the president asking for stronger gun laws.
The president also suggested banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun clips, more than assault weapons, have been associated with mass shootings over the last few years.
Unlike the new New York law, which limits a magazine round to seven bullets, the executive directive suggests capping clips at 10 rounds – going back to the law under a 1994 to 2004 assault weapons ban.
Despite allegations that the presidents plans would go against the Second Amendment, Obama said these orders were targeted at illegal gun ownership and the violence it can cause.
“I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” he said. “I believe most of them agree that 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. That’s what these reforms are designed to do. They’re common-sense measures. They have the support of the majority of the American people.”
It’s now up to Congress, Obama said, to require universal background checks and enforce a magazine limit that will keep the country safer. But to make Congress act and approve these limits, the American people have to speak, especially in districts with a strong pro-gun lobby.
“We’re going to need voices in those areas, in those congressional districts, where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important. It can’t just be the usual suspects. We have to examine ourselves and our hearts, and ask ourselves what is important.”
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