President Barrack Obama should be commended for keeping his word to take bold, swift and comprehensive action on gun violence.
Obama on Wednesday launched the most sweeping effort to curb U.S. gun violence in nearly two decades announcing a $500 million package that includes a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazine just a month after a shooting in Newtown, Conn. killed 20 school children.
The president also signed 23 executive actions, which require no congressional approval. But the president acknowledged, the most sweeping actions must be taken by Congress.
Obama’s list of executive orders includes the following:
Ordering tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks and requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
Ending limits that make it more difficult for the government to research gun violence, such as gathering data on guns that fall into criminal hands.
Requiring federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
Giving schools flexibility to use federal grant money to improve school safety, such as by hiring school resource officers.
And, giving communities grants to institute programs to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.
The president’s action is based on the recommendation of a panel led by Vice President Joe Biden.
Spurred by the horrific shooting, the president appointed Biden to lead a task force on preventing gun violence. He set a late January deadline for the group’s recommendations.
It is important the Obama administration kept its promise to move swiftly while the memory of the Sandy Hook massacre is still fresh in the mind of the public.
It should be simple for Congress to pass legislation to expand background checks on gun buyers to include private sales and is using his executive authority to increase the information available in data banks in the background check system. The administration calls background checks the most efficient way to keep guns away from dangerous criminals.
But the president’s announcement sets up a fight with Congress, which has been cowered by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun-rights lobby.
The NRA released an online video on Tuesday that called Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for having armed Secret Service agents to protect his daughters at school while not committing to installing armed guards in all schools. The NRA believes the way to prevent more mass shootings is to increase the availability of guns
The good news is that most Americans rejected the NRA’s twisted logic.
The majority of Americans favor a nationwide ban on military-style assault weapons, according to a new Associated Press-Gfk poll.
This week the president presented a clear reasonable common sense plan to help curb gun violence.
It is now up to Congress to take action.