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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  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    Many people are saying "blame the shooter, not the gun." What is he shooting with? An assault rifle? It would be great to have the shooter (perhaps) not be a "shooter" at all. Instead, the incident in question would involve a "stabber" or "guy with board and nail" that harms a handful of people instead of producing a pile of bodies. Don't you see? Without the available tools; it's not the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    To those who think banning a type of gun doesn't matter- consider warfare. In WW2 civilian bombing became standard. The goal (loosely) was to also kill as many civilians as possible. You think given the choice of available weapons someone with that goal would pick a knife over an assault gun? Control, beyond all doubt, would save the extra casualties. In war a prime target is the arms supply!

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    There is a misnomer that gun control means banning all guns which isn't the case. Neither is it a case of impugning the second amendment. That is all facile arguments. Gun control is about removing all assault weapons from the streets and limiting the no of deaths. There also has to be other measures for a comprehensive approach such as background checks, register of the mentally to be shared....

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    You show a complete lack of understanding of military tactics, capabilities, and function. As a simple example, most soldiers would not violate Posse Commitatus even on direct order. As for where we were when Bush enacted the Patriot Act, we were failed and our freedoms were stripped from us with rhetoric that it was in exchange for security. That is what is happening again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    ok to the people who are using the argument "knifes kill people too"... the trick of this is very simple, you jail people for carrying both knifes and guns ¬_¬

    The fact that 50% of Americans seemingly support mass murder just so they can pretend to be John Wayne and make pathetic excuses like that justify it says alot about the countries numerous failures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    The second amendment of the US constitution states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed", This was written in a time when the only guns were Bayonets. So let the Americans keep as many bayonets as they want. One guy mentions that people could still use a knife, its a lot harder to mass murder people with a knife then it is with an assault weapon. use your head

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    I live in the U.S. & believe in the motto Live Free or Die. Taking away my assault rifles would be an assault on my freedom. Anyone who's seen Red Dawn, Independence Day or the Walking Dead knows you need high capacity magazines & assault rifles. While these movies are fictional they're representative of what could happen. Where would those pacifist liberals be then? Begging for my protection!

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    "Guns do not kill people. People kill people."

    But more people kill more people where they have more guns. Funny that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration
    The ministry of freedom appreciates your co-operation
    have a nice day

    control is liberty
    freedom is regulation

    This was a public service message issued by the ministry of freedom

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    America has more Gun Shops than Grocery Stores, Chart 2012

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    If the right to bear arms is to be maintained, I suggest a compromise: they can either not possess any guns, but keep their body intact by not having their arms removed, or they can possess guns (as "arms") and also have both of their arms removed. Possessing both kinds of arms is just plain greedy, and in every case where there has been illegal killings, both guns and arms have been possessed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    @670 Bill. The US only entered WWII after it was attacked by Japan. Don't act as though it was some sort of moral pursuit of liberty; and don't you dare claim it was the United States that won the war for the rest of us inadequate souls. You should be ashamed that your last post supports all the stereotypes I would want -- if I were American -- to avoid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    691. Zikalify - what percentage of those 2,000 violent crimes per 100,000 people in the UK involve deaths from shooting, compared with respective US stats?? Just interested to know,

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    @698 Pavid
    Opposition for opposition's sake, to undermine his mandate and sieze the power back at the next opportunity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    Just had a beautiful idea - kills two birds with one stone:

    Why not put a MASSIVE tax on ammunition? Like $100 a round

    People are only going to need 10 rounds per weapon. This way they won't waste them and will only use this ammunition in emergencies. It would help take a chunk out of the national debt too. Just thinking outside the box

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    683 Aziz Merchant
    "I may say that in India it is well-nigh impossible to avail of a gun license. Violence should stop at this."
    I have been told repeatedly about the great democracy of India, and likewise have read how it's government has allowed the abduction of children, killing others because of their religious or social beliefs without having to rely on a gun. Tells me something!

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    Hopefully, our government will stop overstepping its bounds, stop overspending, stop invading other countries, and stop being corrupt. However, they have only increased these behaviors as long as I've been alive. I don't expect them to do anything specific, however, I don't trust the corrupt to restrain themselves either. The 2nd amendment is the restraint for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    This President receives so much opposition for all of the reasonable things he tries to accomplish. As an American, I find it maddening, and I can't imagine how he feels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    Quite frankly I am sick of reading all these comments calling american gun owners lunatics. I am a New zealand gun owner. If you guys haven't noticed NZ has Assault weapons, yet our gun crime rates are much lower than that of england which banned ALL guns except hunting and shotguns. And just by the way ever since strict gun laws were introduced into Aussi gun crime has INCREASED. Read your facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    Zikalify: four times as many Americans shoot themselves either deliberately or accidentally than even the gun homicide rate; if that is defending oneself, I'd rather stick to good old "dangerous" UK.


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