After being introduced on January 5 by Mark Barden–parent of a seven-year-old student who was killed with the guns Adam Lanza stole, then used to attack Sandy Hook–President Obama stood at the White House podium and announced a summary list of executive gun controls to lessen “mass violence” in America.
Obama began by referencing a number of shootings, and although he did not mention it, the vast majority of gunmen involved in these shootings passed background checks to acquire their firearms. The shootings included San Bernardino, Fort Hood, the Aurora movie theater, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple, the Charleston church, and others.
He then focused on the January 8, 2011, shooting of Gabby Giffords in Tucson, Arizona. Ironically, although Obama did not mention it, Giffords’ attacker, Jared Loughner, passed a background check to acquire his gun, as well.
Obama decried violence in America, saying, “We are the only advanced country on earth that see this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close.” And he lamented that the push to expand background checks was introduced right after the Sandy Hook attack but was defeated because it became “a partisan issue.” He said expanded background checks are “common sense reforms” and there is no reason to oppose them.
Obama said there ought not be different rules for retail gun sellers and private gun sellers–that one rule should apply to everyone.
He admitted that such expansion “might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that,” but he said that is no reason to keep from doing something. And in a strange digression, he talked about mass stabbings in China–and how mass stabbings do not cost as many lives because the attackers lack “powerful weapons.”
Amid loud applause, Obama eventually turned his attention to his executive gun controls.
He said anyone considered in the business of selling guns must get a license: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it over the Internet or at a gun show.” He stressed expanding background checks to cover trusts and said the government is hiring more FBI personnel to do background checks faster and bring the background check system into the 21st century.
The President said he wants to “add 200 more ATF agents and investigators,” add new regulations and reporting requirements to existing Federal Firearms License holders (FFLs), remove barriers that prevent states from reporting mental health information to the NICS system, and improve mental health treatment.
He then turned to “smart guns,” stating he wants to boost gun safety technology. “Many gun deaths are the result of guns that were stolen, misused, or fired accidentally,” he said. Thus, he proposed setting guns up so they operate like a phone, with guns disabled from firing without the right code. He did not explain how a single mother or a college-aged female facing assault from a serial attacker is supposed to remember the code they must enter to make their self-defense weapons operable under duress.
Obama strung together a number of concluding comments, many of which were one-liners taunting Congress for not passing gun control and comments that praised businesses that practice certain aspects of gun control by choice, rather than government mandate. For example, he praised retailers who are refusing to sell semi-automatic firearms and “high capacity” magazines, and said he hopes other retailers will make this decision, as well.
Obama said that we all must “demand a Congress brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby’s lies.”
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