News / USA

Obama Challenges Congress to 'Do the Right Thing' on Gun Control

President Barack Obama talks with 11-year-old letter writer Julia Stokes (2nd R in blue dress) as he signs executive orders on gun violence during an event at the White House, January 16, 2013.
President Barack Obama talks with 11-year-old letter writer Julia Stokes (2nd R in blue dress) as he signs executive orders on gun violence during an event at the White House, January 16, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama is taking aim at gun violence with a set of proposals expected to ignite a political fight with pro-gun groups and their supporters.

Obama called for lawmakers to quickly pass several proposals, saying keeping children safe is "our first task as a society."

"Let us do the right thing.  Let us do the right thing for them and for this country that we love so much," he said.

Obama was joined Wednesday by school children who wrote to him about gun violence following the December 14 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and six teachers. 

He has called that day the worst of his presidency and warned that what lawmakers do, or fail to do, will resonate with future generations.

"This is how we will be judged and their voices [children's voices] should compel us to change," said the president.

 Some of Obama's 23 Executive Actions on Gun Violence

  • Require federal agencies to make data available to the federal background check system
  • Review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun
  • Launch national safe and responsible gun owner campaign
  • Provide law enforcement, first responders and school officials with training for active shooter situations
  • Clarify the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking patients about guns
  • Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education
Obama's proposals include banning assault-style weapons, universal background checks for gun sales, and boosting mental health services.  The president also signed 23 executive orders to help give law enforcement and mental health professionals more tools in combating gun violence.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio voiced strong concerns about Obama's proposals, issuing a statement Wednesday saying "Nothing the President is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook [in Newtown]."  Rubio also pledged to "oppose the president’s attempts to undermine Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms.”

The National Rifle Association has been critical of gun-control efforts, saying "gun-control schemes have failed in the past and will have no impact on public safety and crime." 

On Tuesday, the largest U.S. gun-rights lobbying group launched an ad campaign to preemptively attack the president's plan.  The ad calls Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for allowing armed security guards to protect his school-aged daughters, while rejecting a proposal for armed guards in every school.

The White House has called the NRA ad "repugnant and cowardly.''  And during Wednesday's news conference, Vice President Joe Biden said such thinking is out-of-date.

"The world has changed and it is demanding action," he said.

After the president's announcement, supporters expressed hope there would finally be some movement to crack down on gun violence.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said it appears many Americans have had enough.

"This is certainly the most hopeful moment on this issue in well over a decade.  And a lot of it is obviously because of the public outrage and sympathy," he said.

A number of new polls shows many Americans appear to be more receptive to stronger government restrictions on guns.

An Associated Press-GfK poll found a majority of Americans favor a ban on military-style rapid-fire weapons and 84 percent want to see a nationwide standard for background checks for anyone wanting to buy a gun.

Another poll released this week by the Pew Research Center found 55 percent of Americans favor bans on assault-style weapons while 85 percent want stronger background checks for gun buyers. 

Tuesday, New York state became the first in the nation to impose tougher gun-control measures in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings. The law expands the state's ban on assault-style weapons and requires background checks for anyone seeking to buy ammunition.  It also puts limits on ammunition capacity and includes provisions intended to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

The White House gun proposal fact sheet:

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Doug from: Florida
January 17, 2013 4:30 PM
I believe there's a valid question as to President Obama's moral authority to use children as the reason to make recommendations on gun acquisition and ownership. Over 18,000 humans were terminated in late term (greater than 21 weeks) abortions last year. This is a supported choice by the President. So the concept of the Presidential outrage over the senseless and tragic death seems more opportunistic than sincere.


by: Anonymous
January 16, 2013 11:17 AM
Our immediate jump to regulate guns may be justified, yet did we miss something obvious? Seems we’re quick to turn a blind eye to many times that many children dying every year in alcohol related vehicular deaths? Where's the outrage and legislative fire for regulating how much alcohol you can possess? Are those children’s deaths less tragic and acceptable loss year after year simply because we won’t infringe on our “right” to imbibe alcohol? How many gun crimes have alcohol involved?
Seems we jump to fix things that are politically advantageous. The president said “ he’d do anything to save even one life”. Well?
Have we grown numb and totally accepting our children dying year after year? We bath our children in TV, video and movie violence then have the audacity to wonder why they turn into killers. Why are the highest gun related crimes in cities with the most stringent gun laws and legal alcohol? Could the problem be something deeper we don’t wish to confront in ourselves?

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
January 16, 2013 1:01 PM
@ anonymous, who told you there is no control of drink and drive? Who told you there is not a minimum legal age for alcohol consumption? Yet there were still many deaths caused by drink and drive, which means we have to tighten the regulation not the opposite.
controlling violent movies, TVs and games is also important. lets do it one step at a time, ok?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid