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Sunday, January 3, 2016

President Obama Committed To Reducing Gun Violence

"Each time, we're told that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, so we shouldn't do anything. We know that we can't stop
every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one?"

--President Barack Obama

President Obama scheduled a meeting January 4 with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss a three-month review of what steps he could take to help reduce gun violence. Obama will also participate in a televised town hall-style event Thursday, January 7, on CNN called "Guns in America." The town hall will take place at Virginia’s George Mason University, and will be hosted by Anderson Cooper.

The President is expected to use executive action to strengthen background checks required for gun purchases. In agreement with Obama, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has called for more aggressive executive actions on guns, and rival Bernie Sanders said he would support the President's expected move.

The Vermont senator told ABC's "This Week" that he believes "there is a wide consensus" that "we should expand and strengthen the instant background check" implying that certain people, i.e. criminals or people with mental health issues, should not have guns. He added: "I think that's what the President is trying to do and I think that will be the right thing to do."

Meanwhile, Republican candidates largely oppose efforts to expand background checks or take other steps that curb access to guns. "This president wants to act as if he is a king, as if he is a dictator," unable to persuade Congress and forcing an "illegal executive action" on the country, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told "Fox News Sunday."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, also on Fox, said Obama's "first impulse is always to take rights away from law-abiding citizens, and it's wrong."

And, Donald Trump promised that if Obama signs executive actions on guns, he would "unsign that so fast" once he becomes president.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters ...

"The President has made clear the most impactful way to address the crisis of gun violence in our country is for Congress to pass some common sense gun safety measures. But the President has also said he's fully aware of the unfortunate political realities in this Congress. That is why he has asked his team to scrub existing legal authorities to see if there's any additional action we can take administratively."

(Gregory Korte. "Obama begins gun violence effort that could define his last year."
USA Today. January 03, 2016.)

Obama can't re-write gun control legislation, but he can direct Attorney General Loretta Lynch to interpret and enforce those laws more aggressively.

For example, Obama has long decried the so-called "gun show loophole" that allows gun buyers to circumvent federal background checks by purchasing weapons at flea markets and collector's events, and could change regulations redefining whether those sellers should be required to conduct background checks.

“We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future.”

--President Barack Obama

The administration has worked rigorously to strengthen gun reform. No one can doubt the tragic toll of gun violence in the United States. Now is the time to do something to stop the killing.

Five days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary (December 14, 2012), President Obama announced that Vice President Biden would lead an effort to develop a set of concrete policy proposals for reducing gun violence, due no later than January.

On January 15, 2013, Vice President Biden delivered his policy proposals to President Obama. On January 16, 2013, the President put forward a specific plan to protect our children and communities by reducing gun violence. The plan combines executive actions and calls for legislative action that would help keep guns out of the wrong hands, ban assault and high-capacity magazines, make our schools safer, and increase access to mental health services.

Key features of the plan included the following:

* Require background checks for all gun sales.
* Strengthen the background check system for gun sales.
* Pass a new, stronger ban on assault weapons.
* Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
* Finish the job of getting armor-piercing bullets off the streets.
* Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.

"If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that -- then surely we have an obligation to try."

--President Barack Obama

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