President Obama today announced a series of sweeping reforms that will help curb gun violence in our nation.
In front of a crowd that included victims of gun violence, 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 introduced a comprehensive proposal that will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and will give law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community the tools they need to help reduce gun violence, and keep our children safe.
“This is our first task as a society,” the President said. “This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.”
These actions are the result of the effort led by Vice President Joe Biden and members of the Cabinet to come up with concrete steps that we can take right now to keep our children safe, help prevent mass shootings, and reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.
The President acknowledged that implementing some of these changes will be difficult, but vowed to make it a priority: “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.”
While President Obama will sign 23 Executive Actions today that will help keep our kids safe, he was clear that he cannot and should not act alone: The most important changes depend on Congressional action. The President is calling on lawmakers to pass some specific proposals, including the elimination of all loopholes and require a universal background check on anyone trying to buy a gun, restoring the ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines, and creating tougher penalties on people who buy guns with the express purpose of reselling them to criminals.
President Obama also affirmed his belief that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, and stressed that, like most Americans, he believes that we all have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure guns are used safely:
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. 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.