Alongside Vice President Joe Biden and a group of children who had written in support, President Barack Obama signed a proposal to Congress on Wednesday to strengthen United States gun laws. These included universal background checks, limiting the number of bullets in a clip and renewing a ban on military-grade assault rifles.
"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," Obama said.
He listed some specific measures, including a 10-round limit on magazines for firearms, and asked Congress to confirm Todd Jones to fill the long-dormant role of chief for the Bureau of Alchol, Tobacco and Firearms — and briefly mentioned other measures, including helping schools hire more resource officers and making sure mental health professionals have the tools they need. He suggested Congress should fund research into the link between gun violence and violent video games.
Assault rifle bans and universal background checks made up the core of his proposal. A full list of the proposals was published by CNN and can be viewed here.
The advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise issued a statement applauding the president's approach. As it has said before, though, including at its press conference Monday, change can't stop at new legislation. The statement came from one of the group's co-founder, Tim Makris, a Sandy Hook Elementary School parent.
However, not everybody was supportive of the measures, with the conservative group FreedomWatch announcing it is suing the White House task force that led to the gun control proposals offered by the president. The suit alleges the White House group conducted illegal meetings with lobbyists without the required public notice. The suit was filed in Florida federal court seeking to eliminate the task force and prevent any of its proposals from becoming law, The Hill reports.
Others were critical of the president using children as "props," drawing comparisons to the children Hitler surrounded himself with when attempting to sway public opinion. Although the National Rifle Association released a controversial ad asking why the president's children should get armed security while others had to be schooled in "gun free" zones, the organization took a softer tone in a statement released following the president's press conference. The full statement by the NRA released Wednesday reads:
Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.
The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset – our children.
Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.
What is your opinion of the president's proposals? A step in the right direction to fix the problems of gun violence in our country? Or way too far — an overstep of his authority?