News / USA

Obama Calls on Congress to Act on Gun Control

President Barack Obama takes questions from reporters at the White House on December 19, 2012.
President Barack Obama takes questions from reporters at the White House on December 19, 2012.
Acting less than a week after the massacre of 26 people, including 20 young children and six adults, in a school in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama has ordered creation of a government-wide task force to come up with solutions to gun violence.

Obama is taking advantage of continuing national horror over the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School to push forward what he called a "re-emerged" national discussion about gun violence, and to seek solutions.

Vice President Joe Biden will lead the effort involving members of the president's Cabinet, and outside organizations. Obama wants their recommendations no later than January and vows to act on them without delay.

A look at how the U.S. ranks in comparison to the rest of world when it comes guns and gun violence.
 
The U.S. has the highest gun ownership rate in the world. 
 
GUN OWNERSHIP PER 100 PEOPLE
 
1. United States  -  89
2. Yemen            -  55
3. Switzerland     -  46
4. Finland            - 45
5. Serbia             - 38
 
--------------------------------------------
 
Despite the high number of guns, because of its large population, the U.S. does not have the worst firearms murder rate.
 
GUN MURDERS PER 100,000 PEOPLE
 
1.  Honduras     -  69
2.  El Salvador  -  40
3.  Jamaica      -   39
4   Venezuela   -  39
5.  Guatemala  -  35
 
The United States ranks 28th, with a rate of 3 per 100,000 people
 
-----------------------------------------
 
*The U.S. is one of the leading countries in the number of deaths attributed to guns.
 
NUMBER OF PEOPLE KILLED BY FIREARMS IN 2010
 
1.  Brazil              -  34,678
2.  Colombia         -  12,539
3.  Mexico            -  11,309
4.  Venezuela       -  11,115
5.  United States   -  9,146
 
Source: UNODC & Small arms survey of 2010 
"This is not some Washington commission, this is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside.  This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms, right now," the president said.

Obama has spoken with lawmakers in Congress, including gun-rights advocates from both parties who indicated they could support new restrictions on military-style rifles and large ammunition magazines.

He said the fact that solutions to gun violence involves complex issues, including mental health and education, as well as passions on all sides should not be an excuse for inaction.

"The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.  The fact that we can not prevent every act of violence does not mean we can not steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence," Obama said.

Obama and gun control advocates face obstacles because of the power of groups such as the National Rifle Association.

The NRA called the shootings "horrific and senseless" and said it is prepared to offer "meaningful contributions" to make sure similar incidents do not happen again.

Obama called for a "thoughtful approach" that preserves Second Amendment rights to gun ownership, but gets serious about gun safety.

Kathy Kiely is managing editor of the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political contributions from the National Rifle Association to politicians in Washington and nationwide.

“I think what has kept the NRA powerful and what has kept gun control out of the debate is they are still, within Washington by politicians, a feared organization.  They are feared because they can turn out the vote and they can turn on lots and lots of campaign contributions either to support a politician or oppose a politician,” Kiely said.

At a recent demonstration by gun control advocates outside the White House, Colin Bortner and Linda Hoffman voiced impatience.

"I just think there has been a failure in leadership on gun control laws, and I am hoping that will change," Bortner said.

"We need some practical legislation.  It does not have to be, it is not something that is against the Second Amendment, but preventing people from buying these magazines that shoot 20 and 30 rounds," said Hoffman.

President Obama says there is a need for all to "reflect" how to prioritize what is done in Washington, he said the Connecticut shootings should be a wake up call to "get right" the need to keep our children safe.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 7
    Next 
by: Benjamin from: Alabama
December 20, 2012 9:13 PM
Umm.... Gun control on this topic is politics taking advantage of this event. What is Obama doing about the defunding of Planned Parenthood. I don't support 3500 babies being aborted daily, or the $1,100.00 Planned Parenthood gets for each baby they abort.

by: CurtisKojo from: Midwest USA
December 20, 2012 4:23 PM
Dear Mr. President, & all concerned.. I know you all mean well, but lets face it, the bottom-line is GUN=$, GUNS which are made to KILL. And as long as we (Americans) are manufacturing GUNS, there will be KILLING. Trust me. Which bring to mind an incident that happen years ago in West-Africa, an African brother asked us (myself & a couple other African-Americans) if we would teach him how to shoot a GUN if he could get one? And of course we asked him why ask us.. His reply was, "you're Americans, and all Americans know how to aim & shoot guns." It nearly blew our minds. & btw, The brother was a collage professor & world traveler. :-(

by: Tony from: Maryland
December 20, 2012 2:47 PM
everybody knows that america is falling into depression, i dont care what anybody says. nothing is getting better and it is not going to. Obama knows this and i think he is afraid there is going to be a revolution, so he is using the school shooting as his reason to ban weapons, Obama doesnt care about the innocent lives lost. did anybody else see him fake crying on the news and wiping tears that werent even there?
In Response

by: Paul from: Utah
December 21, 2012 4:50 PM
Let me correct you about America falling into a depression. We are not falling, we are being led into a depression with Obama acting as a drum major in a marching band. It seems as though he wants to be the first to jump off of the fiscal cliff. I personally don't see why Obama got his panties in a wad over assault type rifles. When the tragic massacre happened at Shady Hook, Lanza was not in physical possesion of the Bushmaster .223. It was reported that the police found his mothers Bushmaster in the trunk of his car so what is his beef?
Gun control by the government seems senseless. No matter whatever restrictions that are placed on we americans anyone can find just about any type of firearm we wish from the black market. Personally I feel that gun control is the resposibility of anyone who possesses a firearm. For anyone who ever took a hunters safety course or a concealed carry class we are taught that the person in possession of a firearm is responsible as to where the bullet lands. It is a tough decision about gun control when a person that is not in his right mind gets a hold of a gun and causes tragedy and mayhem. These disturbed people are a small percentage of our population. Why should the government place restrictions that include all americans that are sane or insane. That is like a childrens classroom where johnny was bad so the whole class has to stay in from recess. The greatest percentage of american gun owners would not even think of doing what the Lanza's of america have done. Gun control is not the answer!

by: Rory from: Texas
December 20, 2012 11:56 AM
One of our rites as US Citizens is to have the ability to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government. IF the need arose, would you defend your family with a pistol holding 9 rounds against a military grade firearm with a clip that can hold 30 or more? IF assault rifles are banned, so is our ability to fend off our own government if the need arises. Look at countries like the Philippines, or Mexico and see how they live.
In Response

by: James from: Nebraska
December 21, 2012 6:50 AM
@Rory in Texas: "One of our rites . . ." that pretty much sums it up. Rites are religious in nature, much like the worship of the II Amendment, which starts, "A well-organized militia necessary for the security of a free State . . ." No mention there of fending off the government. The right to bear arms is to protect the government (or more properly our system of government from enemies foreign and domestic). Even as a gun owner I know this. But I also know that many gun owners view it as a religious rite, not a Constitutional right.
In Response

by: Curtis Kojo Morrow
December 20, 2012 4:32 PM
Man, Are Kidding? like what defends could you put up against the government?? All they have to do is cut off you electricity and water for a week or less. Man, will you please give us a break.
In Response

by: Tony from: Maryland
December 20, 2012 2:35 PM
very good point rory. if there is going to be a ban on so called "assult weapons" the government should also have to abid by those laws. what happened to "ONE NATION UNDER GOD."

by: NVO from: USA
December 20, 2012 11:51 AM
Terrible what happened....no arguing, second guessing, or debating that. However PEOPLE kill people, guns don't kill people. It is when the human element is entered into that we have a problem. The regime might as well ban cars. Cars don't kill, its when you put a HUMAN behind the wheel, that now, you have a problem.

by: electedface
December 20, 2012 11:49 AM
Mass shootings = proof that gun regulation is necessary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_hZQPpCJ1M
In Response

by: Dennis from: Ms Gulf Coast
December 21, 2012 1:53 AM
Mexico has "very strict" Gun Control. Should we follow their example? They only killed 180.000 in 2011.
Would you insist on new regulations, if they had no effect on gun deaths, or even caused deaths to increase?
Dennis
In Response

by: john from: arizona
December 21, 2012 12:54 AM
its called the black market. gun control will not stop criminals ! theres good people and bad people. its the way the world is.

by: Tony from: Maryland
December 20, 2012 10:59 AM
I am a multiple gun owner including ar's and ak's and do not trust the government or these stupid gun control laws they are about to come up with, I 100 percent stand behind the 2nd amendment but heres a thought. when our founding fathers wrote "the right to bear arms" do you think they were holding bushmaster ar 15's or did they even vision what one would look like?
In Response

by: darrell from: ks
December 20, 2012 10:53 PM
wait till your house is robbed or you are raped / your mind will change over gun control / Car kill thousand a year shall we ban cars
In Response

by: Jason6 from: Boston
December 20, 2012 11:24 AM
Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
---Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

"and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American."

by: Anonymous
December 20, 2012 9:49 AM
Gods bless you, Mr. president

by: Anonymous
December 20, 2012 9:11 AM
so to compare apples to apples on the data provided at left...
per 100,000 people in each country, these are the real stats for the numbers of people killed by firearms in 2010:
Brazil - 18 per 100,000
Columbia - 26 per 100,000
Mexico - 10 per 100,000
Venezuela - 37 per 100,000
United States - 3 per 100,000
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 20, 2012 9:27 AM
Gun control will never work for many reasons, The thing I think about the most when people talk about gun control , is where I grew up. I grew up in a bad part of southern California and if I wanted to I could walk down the street and buy a hand gun or "assault riffle" from someone off the street. The black market for guns is A lot bigger than people realize. I could literally buy a 9mm hand gun for under 100$ from someone who lived right down the street from me. Gun control wont do anything except take away the rights of the people who legally own guns it wont do anything to stop the criminals or some of the mentally ill from gaining access to guns.

by: Aljj from: US
December 20, 2012 8:56 AM
No one will ever convince liberal, PC correct people to look at the facts and do some logical thinking about a subject. It is like trying to talk to a rock.

One point that hasn't been discussed. Mexican citizens do not own guns but the Mexican criminals do. The result? Constant killings of innocent civilians.

Where do you want to be?
Comments page of 7
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs