Just before noon, President Barack Obama addressed the nation to propose wide-ranging reform to curb gun violence in the country.
“While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil,” Obama said during his speech, “if there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”
Obama called for some $500 million worth of changes to make Americans safer from gun violence. The president said that there have been 900 shooting deaths since the Newtown massacre 33 days ago, when gunman Adam Lanza took his mothers guns, shot here dead, then traveled to Sandy Hook Elementary School to kill six adults and 20 children before turning the gun on himself.
To fight what’s become an epidemic in the country, Obama proposed an assault weapons ban, universal background checks for all gun buyers, and a ban of “high-capacity” magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets.
Some say the chance of these laws passing is bleak, and even Obama allowed that it would be difficult to get the legislation through Congress. Still, he implored Americans to “demand it” of their representatives. For much of the country, the battle lines have been drawn between people aching for gun reform, and those who value their Second Amendment rights above seemingly all else. Since Newtown, the National Rifle Association, the country’s largest gun lobby that supports the rights of gun owners and gun companies, has added 250,000 people to its ranks.
He told citizens to ask their representatives, “What’s more important? Doing whatever it takes to get an A grade, or giving the American parents the peace of mind when they drop their children off for first grade.”
His speech marked just the start of the gun control war. Expect it to get bloody, figuratively and literally, as a polarized Congress battles on the Hill while gun lovers–many of whom suspect the president of circumventing the Second Amendment physically taking away their firearms–stock up on guns and ammunition.
In addition to his proposals, Obama signed 23 executive orders targeted toward gun reform. As executive orders, they don’t need Congressional approval. Below is a description of what each will do:
1. “Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.”
2. “Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.”
3. “Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.”
4. “Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.”
5. “Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.”
6. “Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. “Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.”
8. “Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).”
9. “Issue a presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.”
10. “Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.”
11. “Nominate an ATF director.”
12. “Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.”
13. “Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.”
14. “Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.”
15. “Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.”
16. “Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.”
17. “Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.”
18. “Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.”
19. “Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.”
20. “Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.”
21. “Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.”
22. “Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.”
23. “Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.”