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.
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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs