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 815.

    President Obama should propose a license scheme that all gun owners must apply for annual licenses to own gun and are subject to a fitness test for the license. The fitness test should include doctor's certification of the applicant's mental fitness and two community leader's references on the applicant's character. All are allowed to own guns subject to a very strict fitness test.

  • rate this

    Comment number 814.


    I'm really hoping that your comment was a joke!? You can't seriously be using an Alien Invasion or Zombies as an argument for rejecting new gun control measures...really??

  • rate this

    Comment number 813.

    I think that part of the US problem is that it tells it's society to be winners from very early and if you don't fit in to the norm, you can't be a winner so you must be a loser. I think this creates a lot of dissaffected young people who do not know how to integrate well and a few of them are bound to lash out in one way or another.

  • rate this

    Comment number 812.

    Distrust of their government runs very deep in the US psyche, and with good cause. The government per se is one thing, the current crop of 'public servants' quite another. Many petty officials are virtually out of control and seem to feel *they* are the masters and the taxpayers are the serfs. They have an attitude problem, and a gun grab is the stuff their dreams are made on. We'll keep'em,OK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 811.

    810 :D Well it's 4.27am here and I have insomnia. I might get shot myself if I'm not careful. The NRA are obviously nuts. I prefer the NRA here...the National Rivers Authority. We have some excellent fishing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 810.

    Just now
    @801 Unless that's an attempt at irony


    I consider it a success at irony, given that you followed my daft argument through to its nightmarish conclusion.

    Are the NRA being being ironic when they say that the only way to control guns is more guns?

  • rate this

    Comment number 809.

    The rules will come. They will be made into law. Those unwilling to change will not. Then, police and National Guard will be utilized to enforce new laws outlawing what used to be legal. Finally, Americans with guns will stand up to Americans with guns following orders.

    Please be careful, America.

  • rate this

    Comment number 808.

    It is only with a well armed populace that a government will have any respect for its citizenry. More people, over 200 million in the twentieth century, have been killed by their own governments than have been killed in warfare.(i.e. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Syria etc.) If the jews had been armed we would not have had a "Holocaust". If a government goes bad the citizenry must be able to fight back

  • rate this

    Comment number 807.

    @801 Unless that's an attempt at irony, one might consider yourself to be a little mentally unstable yourself. A society that shoots the mentally ill or people "acting suspiciously" on a whim isn't one I'd like to live in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 806.

    Unlike Europeans, Americans are prepared to defend their own homes then call the police. Americans know that when seconds count, the police are usually only minutes away - they cannot be everywhere all the time. Many of us agree that military style weapons are overkill , however, the vast majority of murders are committed with handguns,not AR15s. The words thin,end & wedge come to mind today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 805.

    If there's to be a serious debate on guns in the US, it won't happen without the removal of the toxic influence of corporate money that skews debate and public sentiment, and whose only interest is profit.Congress is stuffed full of those elected with gun industry dollars, and the NRA is no better than a corporate mouthpiece, ditto the right wing press. As they say, follow the money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 804.

    I honestly beliece we we would all be safer if toddlers were armed with assault rifles and about three grenades. Yes I think that is about right, how dare people propose that idiots are not allowed the right to shoot everyone they know!

  • rate this

    Comment number 803.

    709. LiveFree
    "Anyone who's seen Red Dawn, Independence Day or the Walking Dead knows you need high capacity magazines & assault rifles."

    When the zombies and the space aliens and the Russians all attack... I'm not sure your high-capacity magazines and assault rifles will be enough. We may need to summon Godzilla and Spiderman and Batgirl. Like seriously? are you serious?

  • rate this

    Comment number 802.

    Unless the attacker is over a 100 yards away the most effective weapon of defence is a shot gun, A semi automatic assault rifle, as the name implies, is for attack not defence. Even more so when fitted with telescopic sights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 801.

    5 Minutes ago
    This country (USA) has a huge problem, Mental Health Care, not gun control .


    But what Liberals like you fail to understand is that if everyone carried a gun there would be no need for 'Mental Health Care'.

    Anyone acting suspiciously would be shot dead by concerned US citizens, immediately eliminating the threat

  • rate this

    Comment number 800.

    790. USSilentMajority ""the U.S. military crushed resistance in Iraq"
    Reading from the government script again!!"

    If you had bothered reading a reliable news source you might have heard of General Petraeus and his success at turning the Sunni Moslems against al-Qaeda and the great reduction in the death rate prior to the U.S. withdrawal. Rush and Beck are not reliable sources of news...

  • rate this

    Comment number 799.

    " 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"

    How disassociated from reality are you?
    Regardless of how colorful your imagination is, neither the red coats nor the American government is going to attack any time soon!

  • rate this

    Comment number 798.

    This country has more than just one huge problem! But on topic, how about gun control and mental health care together? How about first getting guns out of the hands of people like 709 LiveFree? People who have guns and live in fear because they've watched a few too many fictional movies?

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    The 1800's in the US (Wild West) allowed everybody who wanted a gun to have one. It didn't stop gun violence then and it won't now. Gun violence is a state of mind that is exacerbated by the cavalier attitude to guns in the US both in the 1800's by the glorification of those that excelled at using them and now by the constant bombardment of the young by 1st person shooters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    @781 You can run away from someone with a knife. UK has licensing of all guns. Hand guns were totally banned after the Dunblane massacre with a 5 year mandatory sentence for ownership. To own a shotgun or hunting rifle, it must be kept in a secure cabinet which is inspected once per year by the police. We might have a violent & thuggish society but their ability to do much harm is low


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