Wednesday, January 16 2013 6:06 PM EST2013-01-16 23:06:32 GMT
As the White House prepares to unveil a sweeping plan aimed at curbing gun violence, the National Rifle Association has launched a preemptive, personal attack on President Obama, calling him an "elitistMore >>
As the White House prepares to unveil a sweeping plan aimed at curbing gun violence, the National Rifle Association has launched a preemptive, personal attack on President Obama, calling him an "elitist hypocrite" who, the group claims, is putting American children at risk.More >>
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled the most sweeping proposals for curbing gun violence in two decades, pressing a reluctant Congress to pass universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
A month after that horrific massacre, Obama also used his presidential powers to enact 23 measures that don't require the backing of lawmakers. The president's executive actions include ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence.
But the president, speaking at White House ceremony, focused his attention on the divided Congress, saying only lawmakers could enact the most effective measures for preventing more mass shootings.
"To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act," Obama said. "And Congress must act soon."
The president vowed to use "whatever weight this office holds" to press lawmakers into action on his $500 million plan. He is also calling for improvements in school safety, including putting 1,000 police officers in schools and bolstering mental health care by training more health professionals to deal with young people who may be at risk.
Even supportive lawmakers say the president's gun control proposals - most of which are opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association - face long odds on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker John Boehner's office was non-committal to the president's package of proposed legislation, but signaled no urgency to act. "House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. "And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said ahead of Obama's presentation that he didn't know whether an assault weapons ban could pass the Senate, but said there are some measures that can, such as improved background checks.
"There are some who say nothing will pass. I disagree with that," Leahy, D-Vt., told students at Georgetown University Law Center. "What I'm interested in is what we can get."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called Obama's package "thoughtful recommendations" and said the Senate would consider legislation addressing gun violence early this year.
"The tragedy at Sandy Hook was just the latest sad reminder that we are not doing enough to protect our citizens - especially our children - from gun violence and a culture of violence, and all options should be on the table moving forward," he said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus dismissed Obama's measures as "an executive power grab."
"He paid lip service to our fundamental constitutional rights," Priebus said of the president, "but took actions that disregard the Second Amendment and the legislative process."
Acknowledging the tough fight ahead, Obama said there will be pundits, politicians and special interest groups that will seek to "gin up fear" that the White House wants to take away the right to own a gun.
"Behind the scenes, they'll do everything they can to block any commonsense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever," he said. "The only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different, that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids."
The president was flanked by children who wrote him letters about gun violence in the weeks following the Newtown shooting. Families of those killed in the massacre, as well as survivors of the shooting, were also in the audience, along with law enforcement officers and congressional lawmakers.
"This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe," Obama said. "This is how we will be judged."
Seeking to expand the impetus for addressing gun violence beyond the Newtown shooting, the president said more than 900 Americans have been killed by guns in the month since the elementary school massacre.
"Every day we wait, the number will keep growing," he said.
The White House has signaled that Obama could launch a campaign to boost public support for his proposals. Nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
A lopsided 84 percent of adults would like to see the establishment of a federal standard for background checks for people buying guns at gun shows, the poll showed.
The president based his proposals on recommendations from an administration-wide task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. His plan marks the most comprehensive effort to address gun violence since Congress passed the 1994 ban on high-grade, military-style assault weapons. The ban expired in 2004, and Obama wants lawmakers to renew and expand it.
Other measures Obama wants Congress to take up include limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring background checks for all gun buyers in an attempt to close the so-called "gun-show loophole" that allows people to buy guns at trade shows and over the Internet without submitting to background checks.
Obama also intends to seek confirmation for B. Todd Jones, who has served as acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives since 2011.
The president's plan does little to address violent images in video games, movies and entertainment, beyond asking the CDC to study their impact on gun crimes. Some pro-gun lawmakers who are open to addressing stricter arms legislation have insisted they would do so only in tandem with recommendations for addressing violence in entertainment.
The president's long list of executive orders also include:
- Ordering tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks and requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
- Ending limits that make it more difficult for the government to research gun violence, such as gathering data on guns that fall into criminal hands.
- Requiring federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
- Giving schools flexibility to use federal grant money to improve school safety, such as by hiring school resource officers.
- Giving communities grants to institute programs to keep guns away from people who shouldn't have them.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:54 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:54:25 GMT
Portions of Moore, Oklahoma were ravaged by a mile-wide tornado this Monday afternoon. This follows a near-record quiet start to tornado season. Strong storms may reach northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan by Tuesday.More >>
Recovery efforts continue in Moore, Oklahoma after a catastrophic tornado on Monday. The tornado season that began quietly in 2013 has roared to life this week. Severe weather is possible in Northwest Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday. 13abc and 13abc.com will update throughout the day.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:52 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:52:47 GMT
Heartbreaking photos are coming out of Moore, Oklahoma after a tornado flattened much of the town Monday, killing dozens.More >>
Heartbreaking images are coming out of Oklahoma after a tornado flattened much of the town of Moore on Monday. Emergency crews searched for survivors. At least 24 were killed including nine children.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:48 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:48:46 GMT
Lakota Local Schools will be dismissing early on Tuesday. Because of low water pressure, school administrators tell 13abc that all grades will be dismissed at 11:45am. More >>
Lakota Local Schools were dismissing early on Tuesday. Because of low water pressure, school administrators tell 13abc that all grades were dismissed at 11:45am. There was also no afternoon preschool.More >>
Rescue crews are working through the night after a monstrous tornado barreled through the Oklahoma City suburbs, demolishing an elementary school and reducing homes to piles of splintered wood.More >>
Emergency crews searched the broken remnants of an Oklahoma City suburb Tuesday for survivors of a massive tornado that flattened homes and demolished an elementary school. At least 24 people were killed, including at least...More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:11 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:11:35 GMT
For some people in Northwest Ohio, the image of a massive tornado is something they only see on TV. But Allan Detrich puts himself directly in their path."Seeing the storms out in the plains, they'reMore >>
A local man remembers being in Oklahoma City in 1999, when a massive tornado ravaged the city. Allan Detrich of Fremont says the area was devastated and Monday's tornado reminds him of what happened 14 years ago.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:53 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:53:28 GMT
Toledo firefighters are on the scene of a house fire on the city's East side. Firefighters were called to a home on Thurston Street between Woodville Road and Starr Avenue just after four this morning. ThereMore >>
Toledo firefighters battled two house fires on the east side of Toledo Tuesday. A home in the 400 block of Thurston Avenue was firebombed. Three adults and two children made it out safely. Firefighters also put out a house fire in the 700 block of Euclid Avenue near Starr Avenue.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 6:30 AM EDT2013-05-21 10:30:27 GMT
Coast guard crews are searching for a missing boater in Lake Erie. Authorities aren't releasing a name, but they say this person left Meinke Marina in Curtice, Ohio Monday afternoon. The person was dueMore >>
Coast guard crews found a boater reported to be missing on Lake Erie Tuesday morning.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 6:15 AM EDT2013-05-21 10:15:41 GMT
Investigators with the arson unit have a person of interest custody possibly linked to a fire at 727 Euclid.The fire started before 4:30 this morning on Euclid near Starr.Investigators say it was a vacantMore >>
Investigators with the arson unit have a person of interest custody possibly linked to a fire at 727 Euclid.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:13 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:13:01 GMT
Severe weather is sweeping areas of the plains states. At least one person is dead and more storms are on the way today. ISOH/IMPACT is preparing to help those affected by the spring storms in TexasMore >>
Local charities are organizing to help victims of the Oklahoma tornado. The Red Cross is accepting donations at redcross.org. For more information, go to 13abc.com. More >>