(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama said Wednesday he would issue 23 executive actions for tighter gun control, including beefed-up enforcement of background checks and more resources for schools, public health and law enforcement officials. He also demanded that Congress pass a new assault weapons ban and institute a universal background check for all gun purchases.
“In the month since 20 precious children and six great adults were taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary, more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun, 900 in the past month,” Obama said at a White House event with four children on the stage with him, and members of Congress and cabinet officials in the audience. “Every day we wait, that number will keep growing.”
The impetus behind the new push for gun control was a Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20-year old Adam Lanza, reportedly using his mother’s guns, shot and killed 26 people (20 of whom were children), as well as himself. After the shooting, Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force that presented him with recommendations this week.
“As soon as I am finished speaking here, I will sit at that desk 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 said. “We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system. We will help schools hire more resource officers, if they want, and develop emergency-preparedness plans.
The White House released a full plan entitled, “Now is the Time,” which it claims will curb gun violence.
“We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator,” Obama said. “While year after year those who oppose even modest gun-safety measures have threatened to defund scientific and medical research on the causes of gun violence, I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to study the best ways to reduce it.”
“Congress should fund research into the effect that video games have on young minds,” said Obama. “We don’t benefit from ignorance. We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.”
“These are a few of the 23 executive actions that I am announcing today, but as important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for actions by members of Congress,” said Obama. “To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act. Congress must act soon.”
Obama presented three key proposals that he wanted Congress to pass. The first was to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. He also called for a universal background check, and more money for enforcing the law, including more funds for local police. He also called for Senate confirmation of his nominee to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Todd Jones, who currently is the bureau’s the acting director.
“It’s time for Congress to require a universal background check for anybody who wants to buy a gun,” Obama said. “It’s hard to enforce that law when as many as 40 percent of gun purchases are conducted without a background check. It’s not safe. It’s not smart. It’s not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers.”
Obama cited a poll by Mayors Against Illegal Guns that said 74 percent of NRA members favor stronger background checks.
House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel did not rule out the policy proposal.
“House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations. And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that,” Steel said in an e-mail statement to reporters.