President Barrack Obama Wednesday delivered his highly anticipated agenda aimed at curbing gun violence in the United States.
The President’s proposals follow a month long dialogue after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A task force led by Vice President Joe Biden met with stakeholders to discuss what common ground could be found to quickly enact some parts of the agenda.
“In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” Obama said Wed. “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”
The plan unveiled at the White House includes four major legislative bills which will be introduced in the U.S. Senate, now controlled by Democrats. Additionally the President plans 23 separate executive orders in his push, which he deemed “necessary to protect children and communities.”
The legislative proposals include a ban on military style “assault weapons”. The proposal will be more comprehensive than the 1994 ban which sunsetted after 10-years. A second bill will be aimed at limiting magazine capacity in firearms to 10-shots. The proposal is expected to anger those who advocate the 30-round clips common in the AR-15 and used in the Newtown shootings. High capacity magazines were also used at Virginia Tech, the Aurora Movie Theater, and the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s gathering in Tuscon, Arizona.
Obama will seek criminal background checks on all gun sales. The measure is aimed at closing the highly debated “gun show loophole” which allowed buyers to make a purchase in certain situations without the check, especially in the case of a private seller. The instant background checks have been required for traditional gun purchases since the 1996 law. The newest background checks would be more thorough and comprehensive aimed at removing legal barriers to accessing mental health records. The policy would allow for exceptions to the background checks only in the case of gun transfers among family members and certain “temporary transfers” for hunting and sporting purposes.
Obama finally wants Congress to outlaw the possession or sale of armor-piercing bullets and to crack down on “straw purchasers” in which a person capable of passing the background check buys guns and passes them along to criminals. The measure would increase penalties for all such violators.
Obama’s executive orders would deal largely with increased enforcement of existing gun laws and directing agencies to be more open in sharing information in enforcement of gun laws.
Obama vows he will use all of his political capital if necessary to push the measures through Congress, banking on a change in national attitude about guns. However, most Washington observers believe he’ll face an uphill battle. The National Rifle Association, the chief lobbying group for gun rights, is digging in its heels and preparing to fight any measure which erodes present rights to firearms ownership.