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Yesterday (January 17), President Barack Obama took to the podium to make an announcement, making one more step to impose stricter gun laws. Thirty-three days after the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the President, alongside Vice-President Joe Biden announced a comprehensive plan to strengthen the country’s gun control laws, including 23 executive actions and a strongly worded request that Congress act quickly to pass new laws. “If there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,” said Obama. “And I’m going to do my part. As soon as I’m finished speaking here, I will sign a directive giving Congress some of the tools they need to reduce gun violence”. But he stressed, “They are in no way a substitute for action from members of Congress. To make a real, lasting difference, Congress too must act. And they must act soon”.
The President was introduced by Vice President Biden. Biden led the government task force on guns, and met with 229 groups, from victims to the NRA, in drafting a course of action. “The president and I are going to do everything in our power to honor the memory of your children and wives,” Biden said to the victims of Sandy Hook. “We should do as much as we can, as quickly we can, and we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good”.
Among the most important points of President Obama’s proposal were the implementation of universal background checks, the banning of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines holding more than ten rounds and the hiring of resource officers at schools “if they want them,” and a renewed focus on treating mental illness. Obama also called for research into gun violence in popular culture. “We don’t benefit from ignorance,” he said. “We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.”
“Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. A majority of Americans agree with us on this,” Obama added. “And by the way, so did Ronald Reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment, who wrote to Congress in 1994 urging them — this is Ronald Reagan speaking — urging them to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons.
Obama was also joined by four young children who he said wrote him letters after the massacre in Newtown. He quoted their spare, simple words: “I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children, I love my country, and I want everyone to be happy and safe,” one wrote. Another said, “I think there should be some changes. We should learn from what happened at Sandy Hook. I feel really bad.”
“This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged,” said Obama. “The only way we can change is if the American people demand it.”
An Oregon police sheriff commented to CNN today that he would not enforce any of the proposals that the President laid out today. The President’s proposal now has to make it through Congress before it can officially pass to turn to law.
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