US gun debate: Obama unveils gun control proposals


President Obama: "To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act"

US President Barack Obama has unveiled the most sweeping gun control proposals in two decades, setting up a showdown with firearms rights advocates.

He called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and wider background checks on gun buyers.

The Democratic president also signed 23 executive actions, which do not require congressional approval.

A month after the school massacre in Connecticut, he said gun-control reforms could wait no longer.

Mr Obama unveiled the proposals at the White House on Wednesday, flanked by children who wrote him letters after December's Newtown shooting, which left 20 children and six teachers dead.

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It is hard to see how the ban on assault rifles will get past Republican (and indeed some Democratic) opposition in Congress”

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Mr Obama said: "If there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."

The top US gun lobbying group, the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), said the proposals were "not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation".

"Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy," the group said in a statement.

The president urged Congress:

  • to reintroduce an expired ban on new purchases of "military-style" assault weapons, such as those used in several recent mass shootings
  • limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and pass a ban on possession and sale of armour-piercing bullets
  • introduce background checks on all gun sales; currently private purchases and some transactions at gun shows are exempt
  • introduce harsher penalties for gun-traffickers, especially unlicensed dealers who buy arms for criminals
  • finally approve the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Mr Obama also signed 23 unilateral orders, including an end to a ban on gun-violence research by a prominent federal agency, and a measure promoting responsible gun ownership.

The parents of Dylan Hockley, killed at Sandy Hook, spoke to the BBC

But he acknowledged his legislative push would encounter stiff opposition in Congress.

"This will be difficult," he said.

"There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty -- not because that's true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.

"And behind the scenes, they'll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever."

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus dismissed Obama's measures.

"He paid lip service to our fundamental constitutional rights," Mr Priebus said of the president, "but took actions that disregard the second amendment and the legislative process."

'Repugnant and cowardly'

The US has one of the highest rates of civilian gun ownership in the world. The second amendment of the US constitution states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

Although the meaning of the full clause is still debated, many gun-rights advocates read it absolutely and oppose the idea of any curbs on access to weapons.

Can a movement that calls for more guns in the US be effective at saving lives?

The White House proposals follow meetings between a task force led by Vice-President Joe Biden and groups from across the political spectrum.

Mr Biden met gun control and firearms rights advocates, entertainment and video game industry figures, parents of shooting victims and law enforcement officials.

The task force also consulted the NRA, which says it has signed up more than 100,000 members since the Newtown massacre.

Earlier, the NRA released a web advert attacking Mr Obama as "an elitist hypocrite" for allowing Secret Service agents to protect his daughters, while not committing to back armed guards in all US schools.

The White House said the ad was "repugnant and cowardly".

On Wednesday, Mr Obama also proposed freeing up law enforcement funds for schools to hire 1,000 new armed police, school psychologists, social workers or other staff trained to prevent violence.


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US gun debate


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  • rate this

    Comment number 695.


    Do you really think that all the pilots and tankies only come from the wealthy middle class american families like Obama ? Or do they in fact come from the 100m gun toting americans who value their freedom and their right to express those freedoms.

    Military personnel in all countrys come from the poor working class populations of said country. Try engaging your brain before typing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    The message should be "I'M DONE WITH THE GUN"!
    BUT! This is a country where people are frightened by their own shadow and so MUST have a BIG gun with LOTS of ammo to shoot at these scary shadows! It's the rest of the world that is LUCKY not to have such nasty things following them 24/7 and SO do not need to be armed! I feel so sorry for these poor suckers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    When the US first ordered car manufacturers to install seat belts, many argued there were so many cars on the road without seat belts the new law would have no effect. Decades later, the law has had a profound effect.

    Similarly, banning assault weapons would not have an immediate effect... but wait a few decades and you will be able to see how many lives such a law will surely end up saving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    But you left thinking robots leave my constitution and freedoms alone.
    I'm a leftie
    I'm a socialist

    I used to live in a free country
    Post WW2 Britain

    Used to be a great place to live

    Now I live in in a liberalised fascist dictatorship which is part of the EUSSR

    Hang on to your constitution, they're after your freedom to be a human being

    Left OR right, they want your right to be free

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    No guns means less deaths? No. The UK has 2000 violent crimes per 100,000 people compared to USA 466 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
    I'm not saying that guns are good and it's not my place to decide whether the US should keep them or not but in the UK you can't even carry pepper spray to defend yourself with, that doesn't kill anyone so why can't I legally carry it to protect myself if need be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    all hail king Obama

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    I live in the US and people here tend think that if you take guns out of peoples hands the government will suddenly take control of the country. It would take a heck of a lot more than removing guns from society for that to happen. If you think guns would stop the government from doing something negative its citizens; did we forget about nuclear weapons? Those are pretty easy to aim at the public.

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    penguin @634
    "I'm a Brit"
    But fortunately not blindly pro-British

    penguin @650
    Against "anywhere like (18C) Britain"
    But blind to (21C) UK & US tyranny?

    penguin @664
    Despairing of "irrational"
    But trusting God's 'investment' in the people of America
    As against rest of Creation?
    Despairing of 'government' without address of structure
    "How long will it be…" for US to find peace?

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    The 2nd Amendment was put in place when the general population and size of towns and cities was far less numerous then in the modern USA. The most powerful weapon was a single shot rifle and the threat from external causes was subsantially greater then in the modern USA. It is outdated and has fed an obsession and paranoia with these weapons that has and will continue to claim innocent lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    100 million gun owners in the US and there are only 1.5 million soldiers.
    You think you would win against 1.5 million troops, tanks, fighter jets, drones, propaganda, media control? As I said in my last post, delusional!
    This is a fantasy from the paranoid right wing.
    Oh, and Bush signed the Patriot Act, where were all the "wannabe hero" Americans stopping oppressive gov then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    a song about guns, inspired by the shooting of an elected representative, nothings changed much since then so song still relevant

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    Very few people can afford actual assault rifle. An actual assault rifle is fully automatic and those have been illegal except under extremely strict control in the US for a very long time. A semi-automatic magazine fed weapon which is what you are referring to when you think of assault rifle is commonly used for hunting, self defense, target shooting, etc...

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    Control of gun license should be strictly monitored. I agree with my President. No amount of solace is sufficient for the little Olivers who were massacred by a demoniac in Newtown, Connecticut. As a person of Indian origin, I may say that in India it is well-nigh impossible to avail of a gun license. Violence should stop at this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    I see a lot of comments giving the indication those of you in the UK don't think you should defend yourselves if attacked by someone. Even if it is a knife wielding maniac. Are you that confident in your police force?
    You should read the recent crime statistics report put out by your Home Office.
    It may scare you a little.

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    663 Benjy
    Personally I'm not interested in changing yours or anyone elses mind about my right to gun ownership! I don't have or care to have (unless I go down along the Mexican boarder) an AK or what you term an assault rifle. But you left thinking robots leave my constitution and freedoms alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.

    Bill: I'm sure that US private gun ownership had the Russians quivering in their boots during the cold war - good grief - smell the coffee.

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.

    You know, I thought the purpose of a democracy is that you can control the government with the ballot box ?

    Like an EU vote for the British people???

    We've been waiting OVER 40 YEARS for a vote on the EU

    Burma has the same level of democracy as Britain as far as the EU is concerned

    America wrote its own constitution because our "democracy" was so rubbish

    We were the warning

    Never again

  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    The territory that exists mostly between Canada’s southern border and Mexico’s northern border is supposed to be one nation, but the truth is that it’s two: the USA, and that anachronistic locked-in-the-eighteenth-century survivalist cabal of antisocial superannuated children the NRA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    If things ever got to the point over here that an armed insurrection started, do you really believe that the military would obey order to fire on civilians?
    Unfortunately, you can only control the government through the ballot box IF you have an informed public, AND honest politicians.
    It seems that we have little of either over here - hence Obama, Reid, and Pelosi being reelected.


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