President Obama called Wednesday for a new and tougher assault-weapons ban and a 10-round limit on magazines, as part of a comprehensive plan to curb gun violence that includes 23 steps he would take without congressional action.
Already facing stiff opposition from gun-rights advocates and Republican lawmakers, the president called on Congress to pass several major changes to the country’s current gun laws — some of which are already being considered like the restrictions on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Obama called as well for legislation to bar the possession and importation of armor-piercing bullets and to require criminal background checks for nearly all gun sales.
Despite discussions earlier about addressing the pervasive violence in the entertainment and video game industries, the president’s plan does not appear to address those issues. The plan, though, does call for a range of measures to improve access to mental health services and improve safety at America’s schools.
The president’s intent to use executive action has stirred objections from lawmakers who have warned Obama not to overstep his bounds.
Unilaterally, Obama plans to make federal agencies share information with the federal background check system; nominate a new ATF director; propose new rules to let law enforcement run full background checks before returning a seized gun; order the Centers for Disease Control to research causes of gun violence; require law enforcement to trace guns from criminal investigations; and take other steps.
The most controversial elements of the president’s plan, though, continue to be the proposals he wants Congress to pass.
The call for universal background checks would extend to gun shows and private sales, with “limited” exemptions for “certain transfers” among family members and other situations. The administration plans to give private sellers guidance on how to run background checks as soon as possible.
Plus the president wants to commit $4 billion to hiring more police officers, and to pass new gun trafficking laws to explicitly prohibit straw purchasing.
The comprehensive plan comes in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre, in which 20 children and six adults were killed. Obama discussed his recommendations joined by children who wrote to the White House about the issue of gun violence following the tragedy.
Gun-rights groups, though, say the effort to impose more gun control measures is misguided, noting in particular that most killings in America are committed with handguns and not the assault weapons the administration intends to target. Some local officials have vowed to resist federal action.
The National Rifle Association also plans to launch a major ad campaign. The group’s first ad called Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for his daughters’ security detail. Obama has been critical of the NRA’s plan to install armed security in every school.
The White House plan does address school security, urging Congress to help schools complete emergency plans; proposing an initiative to help schools hire up to 1,000 resource officers and mental health professionals; and proposing new training for teachers to recognize mental health issues among young people. Obama also plans to beef up mental health coverage via executive action.