ONTD Political

Obama Gun Control Proposals Unveiled, Marking Biggest Legislative Effort In A Generation

4:47 pm - 01/16/2013

WASHINGTON -- In a bold and potentially historic attempt to stem the increase in mass gun violence, President Barack Obama unveiled on Wednesday the most sweeping effort at gun control policy reform in a generation.

"This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged," Obama said. “We can’t put this off any longer."

The proposal, which comes at the end of a month-long review process spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, is broken down into four key subsections: law enforcement, the availability of dangerous firearms and ammunition, school safety and mental health.

In an effort to touch on all four of those elements, the president recommended requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales; reinstating the assault weapons ban; restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines; eliminating armor-piercing bullets; providing mental health services in schools; allocating funds to hire more police officers; and instituting a federal gun trafficking statute, among other policies. The cost of the package, senior officials estimated, would be roughly $500 million, some of which could come from already budgeted funds.

Because these recommendations require congressional approval, the administration is supplementing its proposal with 23 executive actions that will be taken immediately. Those actions include requiring federal agencies to hand over relevant data for a background check system; providing law enforcement officials, first responders and school officials with better training for active shooting situations; directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence; and many more.

"I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality," said the president, speaking about his full set of recommendations. "If there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."

The approach is so sweeping that what would have otherwise been a headline-grabbing announcement received second billing. The president on Wednesday will nominate Byron Todd Jones, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to take over the post permanently.

In total, the proposal goes beyond what most gun control advocates were hoping for at the start of Biden's review process, during which he held 22 different meetings with 229 different organizations and 31 elected officials.

"This is a monumental moment. It's a long time coming and we're thrilled the president's putting the full weight of his office behind this," said Josh Horowitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "We're ready to push this thing through."

But putting together ideas is the easy part. Selling them on the Hill will take a bit of legislative craft.

Seasoned political observers have questioned whether it makes more sense to break the package into separate bills or push for one comprehensive proposal. A senior administration official said that the president's proposal shouldn't be considered finalized legislative language, but rather a series of recommendations for Congress to consider. The president would be working with lawmakers to move the process forward, the official added, and would be trying to build up public opinion as well.

"I will put everything I've got into this and so will Joe [Biden]. But I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it," said Obama. "We are going to need voices in those areas and congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong."

"It can't just be the usual suspects," he continued. "This will not happen unless the American people demand it."

The gun-rights lobby has already signaled that it will try to block the administration's effort. A spokesman for the National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the president's proposal. But the organization has already harshly criticized the Obama administration for overreach.

"It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems," the NRA said after meeting with Biden last week. "We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen."

The group continued its offensive this week, launching an advertising campaign attacking Obama as an "elitist hypocrite" for opposing the NRA's widely-criticized proposal, made after the Newtown, Conn. shooting, to place armed guards in all of the nation's schools.

But that attack appeared a bit premature. As part of its policy recommendations, the White House called on Congress to act on an old administration proposal to spend $4 billion to keep 15,000 cops on the streets. In addition, the president is proposing a new initiative that would incentivize police departments to hire more school resource officers and encourage schools to hire more mental health professionals. The president's plan also calls on Congress to allocate resources to help schools, other educational institutions and houses of worship develop emergency management plans.

The White House proposals, even officials there admit, are not a cure-all for mass shootings. Among the suggested recommendations on the gun-policy front, only the ban on high-capacity magazines could have had a tangible impact on the shooting in Newtown, and it's unclear what, exactly, the effect would have been.

Moreover, the administration is pointedly not going after those weapons and ammunition clips that are currently and lawfully owned. The proposal would instead affect the future production and sale of military-style weapons or high-capacity magazines.

"We are not going to go after existing stock of weapons or magazines," said a senior administration official. "We are going to limit it to the manufacturing of assault weapons and clips going forward."

The White House nevertheless insists that its package of proposals has teeth. It would provide law enforcement with the mechanisms needed to go after the illegal transfer of weapons and help prevent those weapons from falling into the wrong hands. It would also stem the use of military-style weapons -- the White House says its proposal would improve on the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which was riddled with loopholes -- and give schools and communities resources to address violence when it occurs.

The question, in some respects, is not what's missing from the set of ideas, but what took the administration so long to get to this point.

"It is not as though we had this whole policy paper sitting on the shelf somewhere," said a senior administration official. "[We worked] 24/7 for the past month. And we met with a lot of groups and we learned a lot of ideas that came as a result of this process. We tried to be as comprehensive as possible. We are hoping that as the process goes on and as the debate goes on, we might come up with some other ideas."

maenads_dance 17th-Jan-2013 04:23 am (UTC)
I am very excited to learn more about the proposal to increase mental health services available in schools.

As for the rest -- it will be an interesting legislative battle. I just worry that Obama will expend so much political energy on this that he won't have enough for Immigration Reform, which was what I really wanted him to tackle this term.
4o5pastmidnight 17th-Jan-2013 04:35 am (UTC)
I'm gonna be honest: I'm terrified a gun nut will get furious about this and try to assassinate Obama. My mom said she thinks that if we seriously try to open a conversation on gun control and actually do something about it, a major figure involved will be assassinated before it's over. I'm scared, but we have to fucking address this issue. We can't let it go on any more.
shadwrayvn 17th-Jan-2013 04:42 am (UTC)
Thats the same thing my bro & I think my happen but this needs to be discussed.
maenads_dance 17th-Jan-2013 04:48 am (UTC)
Oh man :-(

That hadn't occurred to me. I was so worried about assassination the first year of his presidency, but I guess I stopped worrying about it.
mollywobbles867 17th-Jan-2013 05:24 am (UTC)
That's a fear of mine too. I calm myself down by knowing that the Secret Service is damn good at their job. Mostly I've been watching a lot of West Wing, so every time something bad happens on the show, I get something new to worry about. We definitely have to address this issue and the higher a person's profile who is talking about it, the less likely they'll get drowned out by the NRA. I also feel like my letter to the president, or at least letters like mine, was listened to after Newtown.
mollywobbles867 17th-Jan-2013 05:27 am (UTC)
They're not even executive orders. They're executive actions; three are presidential memoranda, which is pretty much an executive order, but doesn't have the stigma of the name. Sauce
maenads_dance 17th-Jan-2013 05:02 am (UTC)
On a lighter note: what's with the expression on the kid in the turtleneck? He looks very unimpressed!
schexyschteve 17th-Jan-2013 05:19 am (UTC)
I really hope this happens.

"We are not going to go after existing stock of weapons or magazines"

And of course, no one's going to hear this part, and just scream "MAH GUNS! MAH GUNS!" and grow more fearful by the day, until someone does something incredibly stupid.
eveofrevolution 18th-Jan-2013 04:59 am (UTC)
Which means that until this actually plays out, they will be FLYING off the shelves. Hell, since Newtown, my city has had an ammo shortage. Dick's has been limiting the amount of cases of ammo you can buy per day. It's fucking scary.
underfiend OT...17th-Jan-2013 05:22 am (UTC)
It's always so amusing to me to see photos of Obama signing things. He makes it look so awkward for a left-handed person to write. I'm assuming he's just from the generation that lacked left-handed writing educators... or something.
astridmyrna Re: OT...17th-Jan-2013 05:37 am (UTC)
OMG I never realized that he was left-handed until now. XD

Usually left-handed people (including myself) lift our arm up a bit so you don't smear what you just wrote. When I was a kid my whole arm would be gray after writing or drawing something in pencil.
romp Re: OT...17th-Jan-2013 08:05 am (UTC)
I'm surprised every time I see him sign something. :)
abby_i Re: OT...17th-Jan-2013 11:06 am (UTC)
My nan had her hand tied behind her back so she'd write 'correctly' growing up. Utterly horrible. Her handwriting was rubbish as a result of course, so it was hardly an improvment.

I turn my paper to the right by 90 degrees and write 'downwards'. Gets me a lot of odd looks, but there's no smudged ink or dirty hands and is super comfortable. The other girl in my class wrote 'hooked', it always looked so painful.
maladaptive Re: OT...17th-Jan-2013 01:32 pm (UTC)
He's a hook-writer, just like me. The hook means you're pulling the pen along rather than pushing, which is much harder.

FWIW, I'm always weirded out when I see right-handed people write in movies because it looks so wrong.
wrestlingdog Re: OT...17th-Jan-2013 05:04 pm (UTC)
Every time I see him write, I think "Is that what I look like when I write?"

astridmyrna 17th-Jan-2013 05:38 am (UTC)
This needs to happen and I'm glad that Obama and Biden are kick-starting this project.
ohmiya_sg 17th-Jan-2013 05:41 am (UTC)
That's my president. :)
jwaneeta 17th-Jan-2013 06:35 am (UTC)

hate the drones, though.

BUT, ©od bless
mskye 17th-Jan-2013 06:30 am (UTC)
I'm proud of him, tbh.
maryseif 17th-Jan-2013 07:48 am (UTC)
My whole family has been screaming about how much of a Dictator Obama is because he's "taking all our guns away". No amount of explaining the horror of an *actual* real life dictator and the fact that "no one is taking your fucking guns oh my god" will calm them down. My aunt told me that she fully expected to be put into a a "re-education camp" with all the rest of the gun supporters.

People are getting scary over this.
hinoema 17th-Jan-2013 08:28 am (UTC)
Let them scream, until they realize that no one has put them anywhere.
corinn 17th-Jan-2013 08:33 am (UTC)
Sounds reasonable. I need to read up on the specifics and write my congresscritters. Thoooough I know Heller got contributions from the NRA and Heck was endorsed by them, so IDK if my letters will be more than kindling to them. Maaaaybe Reid's office won't toss it out of hand. The news makes it sound like he's hedging his bets though. D:

As some others have noted, the reactions by the right... They're... I just... They make me picture this:

and think people outside the US must picture this:

maenads_dance 17th-Jan-2013 10:05 am (UTC)

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