Obama executive action on guns raises questions


US President Barack Obama gives high-fives to children who wrote letters to the White House about gun violence, Taejah Goode, Julia Stokes and Grant Fritz, after announcing the administration's new gun law proposals on January 16, 2012 in Washington, DC.


Mark Wilson

The White House has moved swiftly to push through gun control measures since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December.

On Wednesday, President Obama announced 23 actions aimed at reducing gun violence, as well as proposals for Congress to pass new legislation.

The 23 "executive actions" have not been signed into law.

"I am putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of [the vice president's] task force," Obama said in a press conference, according to Politico.

"In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality."

The New York Times reported that the actions the President said he will immediately undertake were modest and they mostly urged bolstering systems that were already in place, including better information sharing among bureaucracies.

Many so-called "actions" were likely just attempts to push certain issues to the top of the agenda, including boosting safety in schools.

The president also proposed launching a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

“It was all focusing on enforcing existing law, administering things like improving the background database, things like that that do not involve a change in the law but enforcing and making sure that the present law is administered as well as possible,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) told Politico.

The actions also include urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do further research on gun violence and telling doctors they can inform law enforcement of potentially violent patients.

"While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there's even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try" Obama said, reported PBS.

Along with the executive actions, the President is also urging Congress to pass new legislation for universal background checks, ban military assault weapons, limit magazine size and eliminate armor piercing bullets.

The Washington Post reported that Congressional action will be difficult as many Democrats and all Republicans would likely block the proposals.

Many Democrats from rural areas with high rates of gun ownership are facing election soon and would be wary of supporting further gun control measures.

The Post also said that if Obama turns some of his executive actions into executive orders, Republicans might claim that Obama is undermining the democratic process and block further initiatives in Congress.

More from GlobalPostGun control: Obama signs 23 executive actions (LIVE BLOG, VIDEO)

White House Gun Control Proposals