News / USA

White House Takes Gun Control to American Public

A crowd listens to speaker during a rally against gun violence near the Washington Monument in Washington, January 26, 2012.
A crowd listens to speaker during a rally against gun violence near the Washington Monument in Washington, January 26, 2012.
Kent Klein
The Obama administration is once again going to the American people to win support for one of its initiatives. The president and other White House officials are mounting a public campaign for passage of gun control legislation, evidenced by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's appearance at a rally in Washington on Saturday. The march for stricter gun control laws concluded with a gathering at the Washington Monument, where Duncan called on Congress to approve President Barack Obama's initiatives to curb gun violence.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure that we pass legislation that makes our children and our families, our communities safer,” Duncan told the crowd. He said the administration’s agenda is focused on gun safety, not on taking away Americans’ constitutional right to own guns. The education secretary’s speech at the rally was part of the White House strategy to take its case to the public.

Vice President Joe Biden, whose recommendations formed the basis of  Obama’s gun initiative, has made several public appearances in the past few days on behalf of the effort. On Friday, Biden held a discussion of the issue with private citizens and local officials in Richmond, Virginia. The vice president also appeared on the Internet for what was called a “hangout” to discuss gun violence.

“If we can do something that, even if it only impacts on saving one life of a child or an individual out there, it is worth doing, but I think we can do a lot more than that.”

One piece of the administration’s agenda is a proposal to ban military-style assault weapons, like the ones used to kill 20 children and six adults at a school in Connecticut in December. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced a bill to ban assault weapons.

“Weapons designed originally for the military to kill large numbers of people in close combat are replicated for civilian use," said Feinstein. "They fall into the hands, one way or another, of grievance-killers, of gangs, of those who are mentally unstable or ill.” Lawmakers, including Feinstein, have conceded that passing gun control legislation will be difficult.

Most Republicans in Congress, and even some Democrats, oppose it.  Many lawmakers support the powerful gun rights organization, the National Rifle Association.  Wayne LaPierre, who leads the NRA, recently said law-abiding citizens should be allowed to have as much firepower as criminals.

“We believe we deserve and have every right to the same level of freedom that our government leaders keep for themselves," LaPierre said.  "And the same capabilities and the same technologies that criminals use to prey upon us and our families. That means we believe in our right to defend ourselves and our families with semiautomatic firearms technology.”

Despite the difficult odds facing passage of an assault weapons ban, other administration initiatives to reduce gun violence stand a better chance of passage. Experts say proposals to strengthen background check requirements, better track and regulate the sale of guns and keep weapons away from the mentally ill are popular with the public.  

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing on gun violence on next week.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Horsesforcourses from: dubai
January 28, 2013 2:34 PM
Leave us alone
Every time I write about Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza and watch White House kicks off on gun control campaign. I get a strange feeling that the entire thing is horseplay. 2nd amendment crowd who don’t trust the sheriff blame Obama for turning USA to Prison Planet. These people believe that an assault weapon is essential for puberty like Medical Marijuana and has to be dispensed everywhere. Am lost. Without an assault weapon in hand In Corrupt Police State no one stand a chance of survival.

In gun-free Corrupt Police State a queer can rape a hulk at gun point. We’re talking utopia here unless someone will tell me why $50 assault weapon is sold in USA from $500. What’s going on? Let me tip you the answer. What business got 1000% markup beside Narcotics and killing machines. Dumb down. Probation is Obama’s WMD. Ask moonshine boys they will be able to tell how much booze license costs and why are they hunted like rabid squirrels in the Rockies. Come on girls Killing Machines & Narcotics is $14T economy in USA only. That’s why White House kicks off on gun control campaign to left the price. Quit Alex Jones and go to bed. You hear me. Now!

by: Schar from: USA
January 27, 2013 10:08 PM
Why do civilians need ARs? If in the shootings in Connecticut it was not AR, it means it was not needed by anyone, even those mentally not sound! So why should others fret if ARs taken out of circulation? Why does America have more gun deaths per unit of 1000 persons than Germany, Britain or other countries? Is it because some people want to let guns talk if others oppose them, rather than have a decent conversation? Even when people are promised that their Second Amendment rights will not be broached why this needless buildup about gun rights which in any case are for the “militia”? And where are all those prolife religious leaders? If fetus is a living entity isn’t someone large-as-life, life? Or is it just plain old dirty politics that even religious leaders find necessary to indulge in favor of the NRA and pro-NRA legislators?
In Response

by: Shraydin from: Missouri
January 28, 2013 10:41 PM
Do we need AR-15's in our normal daily Should we still be allowed to have them besides that fact? Yes. We are given that right by the current interpretation of the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States by the Supreme Court. Feel free to look it up.

by: John from: Raleigh
January 27, 2013 12:54 AM
This article is full of lies. First and last, because I don't have time to go into anymore, military style assault weapons were not used in the Conn. shooting (that gun was in the vehicle).

by: Shraydin from: Missouri
January 26, 2013 8:08 PM
I don't know how people fail to sse the real issue here. The laws that they want to pass are incapable of protecting people because the people who put us in danger don't care about laws. The laws the current administration want to pass only puts those who follow them at risk. What do you think the likelyhood is that someone who wants to kill people won't ignore the law and get weapons illegally.
This is just an opportunity for them to push their own agendas while trying to convince the public that it is all for us. Come on people use some common sense. Gun Control LAWS only put those who follow them more at risk.
In Response

by: Joseph marcucilli from: Santa Clarita ca.
January 27, 2013 12:09 PM
Criminals are not responsible for most of the deaths due to gun violence, your are more likely to die by accidents with guns, domestic violence , suicide, and of course the use of assault weapons which is not the weapon of choice for criminals.Criminals don't go around killing 30 people at a time they frankly are not as nuts as some Americans waiting for the next revolution of guys who think they are Batman.
In Response

by: Matt from: Nature Coast
January 27, 2013 8:53 AM
Shraydin, I couldn't have said it any better. And despite what the media tells us, the overwhelming majority of comments on these articles are against new legislation.
In Response

by: will from: USA
January 26, 2013 9:59 PM
It is evident what the viewpoint of the author is but I would like some a fcat check. What shooting in December involved the use of an AR? Feel free to speak your opinions and beliefs I welcome that it is something this country was founded on. But please do not base your opinions on things that were not true and do not continue to spread untruths. The shootings in Connecticut in December used a pistol not an AR. The demonization of this rifle by public figures for its use in this shooting is based on a lie. NBC even admitted that autopsy reports and investigation show that no one died from injuries sustained from .223 caliber rounds. Instead injuries inflicted where caused by the pistols the shooter carried. The AR was not even present in the biulding. Nor was the shotgun. But who likes to use facts? When spin offs and sensational media claims support your arguements to a greater degree.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs