President Barack Obama announced his gun safety plans Wednesday, signing 23 executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence and urging Congress to enact tougher laws including universal background checks for gun buyers, a restored assault weapons ban, and a 10-round limit for magazines.
Vice President Joe Biden, who chaired a taskforce that compiled a list of recommendations for reducing gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, introduced the president.
“We have a moral obligation to diminish the prospect of something like this happening again,” Biden declared. “The world has changed, and it’s demanding action.”
President Obama then took the stage, and began by introducing four of the many children who wrote letters to the White House in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. “While reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn’t be a divisive one,” the president said before laying out several of the executive orders that he would sign at the conclusion of the speech.
“As soon as I’m finished speaking here, I will sit at that desk and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence,” Obama said.
“We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system,” the president continued. “We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them, and develop emergency preparedness plans. We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.”
Obama also pledged to direct the Centers for Disease Control to study the causes of gun violence, noting, “We don’t benefit from ignorance. We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.”
Talking Points Memo has a full list of the 23 executive actions Obama signed.
The president went on to acknowledge that his executive actions are “in no way a substitute for action from members of Congress.” To that end, Obama called on Congress to take five specific actions to reduce gun violence.