Obama unveils $500 million gun violence package

By: ERICA WERNER, Associated Press
By: ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is announcing a $500 million package of executive actions and legislative proposals aimed at reducing gun violence a month after a mass shooting in Connecticut killed 20 elementary school children.

The package includes a call on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazine and it would close loopholes in the gun sale background check system.

Obama also is signing 23 executive actions - which require no congressional approval - including several aimed at improving access to data for background checks. A presidential memorandum will instruct the Centers for Disease Control to research causes and prevention of gun violence.

In addition, Obama will nominate Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones currently is the acting director of the agency.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

RESPONSES RELEASED

US Congressman Ralph Hall
"Any act of violence against our fellow man leaves me with a heavy heart, and I remain deeply grieved about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 children and six adults were killed," said Hall. "The families and friends impacted by the events that day are continually lifted up in my prayers."

Hall continued, "While I abhor acts of violence, we must remember that it is the people intent on taking violent measures against others that is the problem, and we must address the root of that violent behavior. Gun violence is not created by a lack of gun regulations. Rather than creating additional regulations for law-abiding, peaceful citizens, we should focus our energy on enforcing existing regulations and addressing the need to reform mental health processes so future tragedies may be prevented."

"Violence must be addressed, but not at the expense of fundamental rights under the Constitution. I believe in fully upholding the Constitution and am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. It is every American's right to possess firearms, and I will oppose any legislation that infringes on this right."

US Congressman Tom Cole
"I will oppose any legislation to limit the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans, including a ban on so-called assault weapons. I represent tens of thousands of responsible gun owners who safely use guns for hunting and protection, and restricting their freedom is not the solution to gun violence."

US Senator Tom Coburn
“The president is right to examine what can be done to prevent tragedies such as Sandy Hook from occurring again. I commend his effort and look forward to working with him on areas of agreement while we continue to honestly debate areas of disagreement. For instance, the president is right to take steps to strengthen mental health databases and reporting to the NICS system so we can ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of criminals or those who are a threat to themselves or others. In the hands of a deranged person, a clip size of one is one too many. Still, states are primarily responsible for enacting measures to improve reporting to the NICS system,”

“I also support the president’s call for Congress to vote on these measures and I will review his recommendations in detail. Some have asked whether I will try to block or filibuster this debate because of my support of the Second Amendment. My goal is the opposite. I believe Congress has a responsibility to review all of our laws and make adjustments as necessary in a transparent, open and deliberative manner. I would welcome the opportunity to debate these issues on the floor of the Senate, and would encourage Majority Leader Reid to schedule a full and open debate. Members of Congress and the American people have a right to know where members stand on these key policies. If members can’t defend their positions, they don’t deserve to be here.

“However, as we debate these measures, we first must ensure our constitutional rights and individual liberties, including the Second Amendment right to bear arms, are protected. Instead of repeating the failed policies of the past, Congress should work on thoughtful and constitutional ways to prevent unspeakable tragedies like this from happening again. The fact that almost every public mass shooting tragedy occurs in a place where guns are prohibited shows that restricting Second Amendment rights tends to disarm everyone but the assailant.

“Secondly, we must acknowledge that with rights come responsibilities. Gun owners must exercise personal responsibility and do everything in their power to prevent firearms and ammunition from falling into the wrong hands.

“Finally, policymakers in Washington should remember that the legislative process is downstream from culture. The laws we make in Washington have less impact than the movies and video games that are shaping the hearts and minds of the next generation. Special interest groups from across the spectrum – from Hollywood to the NRA – all have a responsibility to defend a culture of life and liberty. Still, Congress shouldn’t take our cues from these groups. As elected officials, we should be beholden solely to the Constitution. Our job as it relates to interest groups is not to take instructions from them, but to give direction to them through our constitutional authority to legislate,”

Governor Rick Perry
“The Vice President’s committee was appointed in response to the tragedy at Newtown, but very few of his recommendations have anything to do with what happened there.

“Guns require a finger to pull the trigger. The sad young man who did that in Newtown was clearly haunted by demons and no gun law could have saved the children in Sandy Hook Elementary from his terror.

“There is evil prowling in the world – it shows up in our movies, video
games and online fascinations, and finds its way into vulnerable hearts and minds. As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be. Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice. Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children.

“In fact, the piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the
media, to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing
political agenda that would not have saved those children, disgusts me, personally. The second amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president.”

US Senator Jim Inhofe
"While we mourn with those who have lost loved ones, in no way should the actions of those few who act illegally impact the constitutional rights of the many," said Inhofe. "I will continue to strongly oppose any effort to undermine the Second Amendment and an individual citizen's right to keep and bear arms."

"What people need to understand about today's announcement is that it involved two very distinct actions by the president: 1) executives actions that the President will be implementing unilaterally, and 2) making recommendations to Congress for laws that it should pass. Most of the planned executive orders are common sense changes that are within the President's current powers to implement, namely:
1) Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
2) Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
3) Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
4) Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

"I will adamantly oppose any executive order that I believe infringes upon duly enacted laws by the Congress or on our Constitutional rights. Where I do disagree with the President is on his recommendations for laws Congress should pass. We know from experience that an assault weapons ban will have no meaningful effect on gun violence, as many of the changes that are implemented by a such a ban are cosmetic in nature. Statistics demonstrate that a ban on particular weapons will not significantly decrease crime. Such a ban will, however, significantly decrease our rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

"The text of the Constitution clearly confers upon an individual the right to bear arms - and not just for the purposes of hunting as many liberals will claim. Our Founders believed that the people's right to own guns was an important check on the powers of the government and 'necessary to the security of a free State.' I couldn't agree more and I stand firm in my support of this right."

NRA
Fairfax, Va. – Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.

The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset – our children.

Attacking firearms and ignoring children is 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.


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