US President Barack Obama said his new executive actions to tighten gun rules were “well within” his legal authority and consistent with the US right to bear arms, a warning to opponents who are likely to challenge them in court.
- Mr Obama is bypassing Congress with the new measures
- He held talks with the attorney-general ahead of announcement
- Congress to invest nearly $700 million to boost access to mental health care
- Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Mr Obama said his administration would unveil the new measures over the next several days.
Mr Obama is igniting a political firestorm by bypassing Congress with the measures, which are likely to redefine what it means to be a gun dealer and spark increased use of background checks.
“People are dying, and the constant excuses for inaction will no longer do, no longer suffice. That’s why we’re here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try and prevent the next one. To prove that the vast majority of Americans, even if our voices aren’t always the loudest or most extreme, care enough about a little boy like Daniel to come together and take commonsense steps to save lives and protect more of our children.” —President Obama on new steps he’s taking to help #StopGunViolence: go.wh.gov/StopGunViolence
Republicans Say Obama is Misusing His Powers.
“The good news is … these are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they’re also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support,” Mr Obama said during a meeting with Attorney-General Loretta Lynch and other advisers.
Mr Obama held talks with the country’s attorney-general ahead of an announcement on new executive actions on gun control. He received a report from Attorney-General Loretta Lynch and colleagues detailing what he can legally do under his executive powers. In his new year address the president foreshadowed actions on guns that have already been rejected by his Republican opponents.
“While we don’t yet know the details of the plan, the President is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will,” Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan said in a statement. “This is a dangerous level of executive overreach, and the country will not stand for it.”
Mr Obama said he was confident he was not overstepping and that his new measures were constitutionally sound
“The recommendations that are being made by my team here are ones that are entirely consistent with the second amendment,” he said.
Gun Maker Shares Rocket
Mr Obama said they would not prevent every mass shooting or violent crime but they did have the potential to save lives.
Shares in gun makers Smith & Wesson Holding Corp and Sturm Ruger & Co Inc rose against a falling stock market in anticipation of increased gun sales, as has happened before when the White House has mulled weapon sales reform. The new measures are tipped to include expanded background checks and tighter rules for reporting lost and stolen guns.
Stymied by Congress’s inaction on gun control, the President has asked his advisers in recent months to examine new ways he could use his executive authority to tighten gun rules unilaterally, without needing congressional approval, after multiple mass shootings generated outrage nationwide.
One option was a regulatory change to require more dealers to get a licence to sell guns, a move that would trigger more background checks on buyers. The White House had drafted a proposal on that issue previously but was concerned it could be challenged in court and would be hard to enforce.
No major gun-control legislation since 1990s: In the US, the right to bear arms is protected by the US Constitution, and the National Rifle Association, the top US gun rights group, is feared and respected in Washington for its ability to mobilise gun owners. Congress has not approved major gun-control legislation since the 1990s.
US states have taken their own approaches to addressing gun violence. Texas legalised openly carrying handguns, while New York and Connecticut have banned high-capacity magazines. In 2008, the US Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment of the US Constitution protected the rights of individual Americans to keep and bear arms.
But the court also recognised that laws imposing conditions on commercial guns sale could be consistent with the second amendment.
Emotional Barack Obama Wipes Away Tears
AFP: Jim Watson
President Barack Obama has unveiled a set of new executive actions on gun control, and urged Americans to vote for candidates who do more to prevent gun violence, wiping away tears as he remembered children who died in a mass shooting.
- Obama says right to bear arms can co-exist with measures to address gun violence
- Proposals include requiring more gun sellers to get licenses and more background checks
- Actions “a dangerous level of executive overreach”, Republican House speaker says
- Republican presidential hopefuls vow to overturn order if elected
- But critics have branded the actions both meaningless and in excess of his powers, before they have even been implemented.
President Obama announced a series of measures designed to get around Congress, citing the failure of the American political system to address the issue after repeated, failed attempts at gun reform. In an emotional address to a room full of people, many of whom were holding photographs of family members killed with guns, President Obama repeatedly wiped tears from his cheeks.
The murder of 20 children by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 has become a touchstone for the President on this issue, and a key motivator.
“Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad. And by the way it happens on the streets of Chicago every day,” President Obama said. “My hope earnestly has been that it would change the country.”
After that tragedy, the Democratic president failed to persuade Congress to toughen US gun laws. The President referenced the highly politicised right of Americans to bear arms, but said that can co-exist with new measures to address gun violence.
“Second amendment rights are important, but other rights are important as well and we have to be able to balance them,” President Obama said.
He said Americans need to be “just as passionate” as the NRA in changing gun laws. Mr Obama laid out executive action he is taking to require more gun sellers to get licences and more gun buyers to undergo background checks.
- Requiring anyone selling guns to conduct background checks on purchasers, including those selling online and at gun shows
- Expanding checks on known criminals who are using trusts and companies to buy arms
- Making checks more efficient by hiring more people to do them and making the technology used more efficient
- Proposal to boost FBI background check workforce by 50 per cent and hire 200 new ATF agents and investigators
- Requiring tighter reporting of lost and stolen guns
- Reducing accidents by developing technology to make guns safer via trigger lock mechanisms
- Better protecting victims of domestic abuse by restricting gun sales to violent partners
- Requiring mental health records to be integrated into background check systems, will ask Congress to invest nearly $700 million in mental health care
But even before the details of the plan were made clear, House speaker and Republican Paul Ryan said: “This is a dangerous level of executive overreach, and the country will not stand for it.” The National Rifle Association (NRA) has vowed to continue to fight to protect Americans’ constitutional rights to bear arms.
“The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts,” Chris Cox, executive director for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement.
Opponents are expected to explore legal action against the proposals while Republican presidential hopefuls, among them Donald Trump, have vowed to overturn the order if elected.
Prospective candidate Jeb Bush also questioned its likely effectiveness.
“It’s not going to solve any problems by having the so-called gun show loop hole be taken care of by executive order,” Mr Bush said.
But Mr Obama, entering his eighth and last year in office, has said his measures are within his authority and consistent with the Constitution. However, in a political twist just weeks ahead of the first key caucuses to choose the next presidential candidates he has called on voters to consider their options.
“The reason Congress blocks laws is because they want to win elections and if you make it hard for them to win an election because they block those laws they’ll change course, I promise you,” President Obama said. “We need voters who want safer gun laws and who are disappointed in leaders who stand in their way to remember come election time.”
Gun control: Hamstrung Barack Obama ‘tinkering at the margins’
According to one expert, Barack Obama’s set of executive actions on gun control are minor, leading US political scientist Professor Robert Spitzer says, warning Americans may not see the measures actually implemented in the months to come if it is “tied up in the courts”.
The President has very limited action he can take to reduce gun violence, said US political scientist. “All Presidents issue executive orders, they’re as old as the country itself,” Professor Spitzer said. “The gun lobby has managed to remain an influential lobby group because of their persistence on the issue of gun rights.”
Professor Robert Spitzer is the distinguished service professor and chairman of the Political Science Department at the State University of New York. Professor Spitzer has written several books on the politics of the gun issue in America, and he says that in the face of a hostile Congress, the US President has very limited action he can take to reduce gun violence.
“He can do something, but he’s really tinkering at the margins of national gun policy,”Professor Spitzer said.
The President announced he would use executive power to introduce the changes, including clarifying which dealers need to conduct background checks on gun buyers and provide more funding to Federal agencies to monitor weapons trafficking.
The proposed measures stop well short of introducing universal background checks or registering or collecting some of the more than 300 million guns already thought to be in circulation in the US — moves that would likely need congressional approval. The use of executive action to introduce these measures has led to critics arguing Mr Obama overstepped his authority, something Professor Spitzer said was unfounded.
Youtube: The White House. US President Barack Obama announces steps for gun control.
“It’s a bit confusing because one of the charges against Obama by his critics is that he abuses his power, and that he behaves in an arbitrary and dictatorial fashion,” Professor Spitzer said. “But all presidents issue executive orders, they’re as old as the country itself. They’re founded on constitutional powers.”
Professor Spitzer said despite the changes being relatively minor, it is likely they will be challenged in the courts.
“There is one obstacle, which is that gun rights groups, I’m sure, are already lining up to file law suits against the executive order, arguing that it’s improper or illegal or unconstitutional,”Professor Spitzer said. “So we might not see them actually implemented in the months to come if it’s tied up in the courts.”
Professor Spitzer said despite the gun lobby having relatively few supporters, they have managed to remain an influential lobby group because of their persistence on the issue of gun rights.
“The gun lobby headed by the organisation, the National Rifle Association (NRA), is a very effective lobby group, there’s no doubt about that,” Professor Spitzer said. “And key to their strength is a basic rule or fact of politics, which is that a small but highly motivated minority can often win the day politically over a large but fairly apathetic majority.”
The NRA has vowed to continue to fight to protect Americans’ constitutional rights to bear arms. The organisation is feared and respected in Washington for its ability to mobilise gun owners.
Professor Spitzer said Americans could benefit from some of the proposals introduced in Australia following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, such as gun buybacks.
“The problem would come in the US though if there was an attempt to try to make them mandatory, and Americans would rebel at that idea, that would be a step too far,” he said.
He said a small number of US states had strict laws governing gun ownership, but there were no strong regulations at the national level.
“So there are places in America where we see laws that are not so different to the laws of Australia, but that doesn’t cover most of the country,” Professor Spitzer said.
RELATED? Texas Judge Warns of Civil War if President Obama is Returned
NOTHING is bigger than Texas, nothings bolder and apparently nothing scares a Texan!? Not even foreign invasion or outright stupidity. Lubbock County Judge Tom Head reckons Texas is ready for an invasion from…. the United Nations.
Judge Head told a local Fox News station on Monday that taxes needed to be raised so the county could prepare for contingencies if US President Barack Obama is re-elected for a second term.
“Obama is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN. What’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst case scenario, civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe,” Mr Head said. “What’s going happen … if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in UN troops, I don’t want them in Lubbock County. I’m going to stand in front of their armoured personnel carriers and say ‘You’re not coming in here’.”
Rest assured though, Mr Head also told Fox News that he has the complete backing of his local sheriff :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! US President Barack Obama Backs Gay Marriage
President Obama has finally made it official, announcing that he supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition. In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an “evolution” that led him to this decision, based on conversations with his staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and his wife and daughters.
“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Robin Roberts in an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America
The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states’ deciding the issue on their own. But he said he’s confident that more Americans will grow comfortable with gays and lesbians getting married, citing his own daughters’ comfort with the concept.
Obama’s decision to come out in support of same-sex marriage has sparked a Twitter frenzy :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! Tearful Obama Outlines Steps to Curb Gun Deaths
As tears streamed down his face, President Obama on Tuesday condemned the gun violence that has reached across the United States and vowed to curb the bloodshed with or without Congress.
“In this room right here, there are a lot of stories. There’s a lot of heartache,” Mr. Obama said in the White House East Room, flanked by relatives of those struck down in mass shootings, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. “There’s a lot of resilience, there’s a lot of strength, but there’s also a lot of pain.”
For all the emotion he showed, Mr. Obama nonetheless faces legal, political and logistical hurdles that are likely to blunt the effect of the plan he laid out :: Read the full NYT article »»»»
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