Gun control: Obama signs 23 executive actions (LIVE BLOG, VIDEO)



US President Barack Obama signs a series of executive orders about the administration's new gun law proposals as children who wrote letters to the White House about gun violence, (L-R) Hinna Zeejah, Taejah Goode, Julia Stokes and Grant Fritz, look on in the Eisenhower Executive Office building January 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. One month after a massacre that left 20 school children and 6 adults dead in Newtown, Connecticut, the president unveiled a package of gun control proposals that include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.


Chip Somodevilla


UPDATE: 1/16/13 6:15 PM ET

Signing off

This live blog is now closed, but please check in here for breaking news developments.

UPDATE: 1/16/13 6:05 PM ET

Gun control and small arms in other countries

While the conversation over gun control, the NRA and the Second Amendment has dominated headlines in the US, gun violence and small arms trade are global issues.

In the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, GlobalPost took a look at three countries which changed their gun control laws following mass shootings: Australia, Scotland and Finland.

The in-depth series Gunworld, on the global small arms trade, took a closer look at all the conflicts worldwide, which are fueled by the multi-billion dollar industry.

Mexico, the Middle East and India all have problems with rising gun violence.

UPDATE: 1/16/13 4:40 PM ET

Children's letters to Obama

The children on stage with President Obama while he spoke about the "moral obligation" of reducing gun violence had all written letters to the president.

Mashable posted the letters from Julia, Grant and Taejah.

Taejah's reads:

My name is Taejah. I am ten years old. I am writing you to ask you to STOP gun violence. I am very sad about the children who lost their lives in Conn. So, I thought I would write to you to STOP gun violence. Thank you Mr. President.

Check out the rest on Mashable.


UPDATE: 1/16/13 3:25 PM ET

The NRA's influence

Obama today called on Congress to act. Many of the proposals outlined in the documents released today involve legislation that would have to go through the House and Senate.

An ABC News article published before Obama's speech examined the differences between Congress in 1994, when the assault weapons ban was passed and signed by then President Bill Clinton and Congress of today.

"For one, Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, along with the White House," ABC News noted, saying that it allowed them the freedom to push major legislation. Democrats passed the gun ban, but then gave up control of the House to Newt Gingrich in the 1994 elections.

The bill that included the assault weapons ban was also not exclusively a gun control bill, but rather a broader crime bill which included hiring more police and increasing the use of capital punishment.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post took a look at the NRA's influence on the House and Senate in handy charts. According to the charts, 261 candidates received donations from the NRA in 2012, nearly all of them Republicans. About 80 percent of those who received donations from the NRA won in their House or Senate races. "Which means," The Post concluded, "213 members of the 113th Congress received NRA dollars in 2012."

These are real NRA ads, via The Daily Beast:

UPDATE: 1/16/13 2:45 PM ET

Boehner, Senators react to Obama's executive orders 

House Speaker John Boehner didn't immediately attack Obama's executive orders, but his reaction wasn't exactly supportive, either. 

"House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations," said Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel, according to Politico. "And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that."

The GOP-controlled House is expected to be much more hostile to gun control bills, whereas the Senate is expected to pass recommended gun legislation little by little instead of comprehensively, sources told Politico

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said in a statement: 

“I thank the President’s task force for its thoughtful recommendations. I am committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other aspects of violence in our society 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.”

UPDATE: 1/16/13 2:05 PM ET

Reactions to Obama signing executive actions

The reactions to Obama signing the executive orders were swift on social media:



Check out our storify.

UPDATE: 1/16/13 1:40 PM ET

CNN/Time Poll: Majority of Americans support stricter gun laws

The CNN/Time Magazine/ORC International poll found that a majority of Americans support stricter gun control laws in the aftermath of the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

According to the poll, 55 percent of those surveyed favored stricter gun laws, with 37 percent voicing strong support. On the other hand, 44 percent opposed gun control laws, including 27 percent who strongly opposed them.

The poll, which was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, with 814 adults nationwide participating.

Read more at CNN.

UPDATE: 1/16/13 1:35 PM ET

Biden and Obama's speech in full (VIDEO)

If you missed it, here is the full video of Biden and Obama announcing the measures the administration will undertake to reduce gun violence, via PBS NewsHour.

Video streaming by Ustream

UPDATE: 1/16/13 1:05 PM ET

Details of 23 executive actions

The NRA is under fire for an ad it released on Tuesday, accusing Obama of being an "elitist hypocrite" for not allowing armed guards in schools, while his daughters were protected by armed Secret Service agents at their schools.

"Are the president’s kids more important than yours?" the ad's narrator asks.

The White House called the ad "repugnant and cowardly."

Read more.

UPDATE: 1/16/13 12:50 PM ET

Details of 23 executive actions

The White House released details on the 23 executive actions that Obama signed this afternoon. They include:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

UPDATE: 1/16/13 12:35 PM ET

Obama unveils 23 executive actions

President Obama signed a set of 23 executive actions, including executive orders and measures that he urged Congress to adopt.

Before signing the document, Vice President Joe Biden talked about the task force he headed. He said they talked to 229 groups, from gun advocacy groups to religious leaders to gun owners and law enforcement representatives.

"I have no illusions about what we're up against," said Biden, but he stressed, "We all have a moral obligation."

"We should do as much as we can, as quickly as we can."

When Obama took the podium, he indicated the children on stage, saying in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, "I started getting a lot of letters from kids."

Introducing each of the children on stage, Obama read excerpts from their letters. "These are our kids. This is what they're thinking about. What we should be thinking about is how to shield them from harm."

"This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe," Obama said.

Obama also stressed, "Congress too must act. And Congress must act soon."

"The only way we can change is if the American people demand it," he said, urging citizens to call up their representatives and ask about their views on gun control. Both he and Biden repeated the motif that this is a moral issue with common sense solutions.

Obama said, "We are responsible," for all the families that "never imagined they would lose a loved one to a bullet." He said the measures he was putting in place were about protecting the "most vulnerable among us."

He ended with, "Let's do the right thing. Let's do the right thing for them, and for this country we love so much."



UPDATE: 1/16/13 11:45 AM ET

Watch Obama press conference (LIVE VIDEO)

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden unveil a set of proposals to reduce gun violence.


UPDATE: 1/16/13 11:20 AM ET

New York first state to pass stricter gun laws after Sandy Hook shooting

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that would implement stricter gun laws in New York yesterday, making the state the first to tighten gun control after the Newtown massacre. The New York State Assembly voted 104 to 43 in favor of expanded controls on assault weapons.

Critics said the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act moved through the State Assembly too quickly, according to the Associated Press.

"This unfortunately required tragedy and loss of life to spur the political process to action," said Cuomo, according to Bloomberg. "This is a gun-control bill that actually exercises common sense."

Read more.

UPDATE: 1/16/13 11:10 AM ET

Robert Gibbs: NRA no match for Obama's campaign apparatus (VIDEO)

Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Wednesday that Obama's campaign operation can counter the National Rifle Association's lobbying efforts.

While appearing on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' Gibbs said, "He's got to get out of the White House and travel the country. He's got to make his case directly to the people."

"The president has the most exciting campaign apparatus ever built. It's time to turn that loose," Gibbs said, according to Talking Points Memo. "It's time to turn that loose for something more than just an election. If the NRA's got a list, then Obama for America has a bigger list."


UPDATE: 1/16/13 10:20 AM ET

Obama to unveil gun control proposals (LIVE FEED)

President Barack Obama will announce some of the administration's proposals to reduce gun violence on Wednesday.

Some of the proposals may include bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, the Associated Press reported.

The executive orders, aimed at circumventing Congress' reluctance to pass stricter gun control measures, will also include efforts to curb bullying and improve mental health services, said the AP.

Read more.

Vice President Joe Biden headed the White House's task force on gun control and said last week, "The president is going to act."





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