Wednesday, January 16, 2013

President's Gun Control Proposal Unveiled,
Marking Biggest Legislative Effort in a Generation

Sam Stein/WASHINGTON -- In a bold and potentially historic attempt to stem the increase in mass gun violence, President Barack Obama unveiled on Wednesday the most sweeping effort at gun control policy reform in a generation.

"This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged," Obama said. “We can’t put this off any longer."

The proposal, which comes at the end of a month-long review process spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, is broken down into four key subsections: law enforcement, the availability of dangerous firearms and ammunition, school safety and mental health.

In an effort to touch on all four of those elements, the president recommended requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales; reinstating the assault weapons ban; restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines; eliminating armor-piercing bullets; providing mental health services in schools; allocating funds to hire more police officers; and instituting a federal gun trafficking statute, among other policies. The cost of the package, senior officials estimated, would be roughly $500 million, some of which could come from already budgeted funds.

Because these recommendations require congressional approval, the administration is supplementing its proposal with 23 executive actions that will be taken immediately. Those actions include requiring federal agencies to hand over relevant data for a background check system; providing law enforcement officials, first responders and school officials with better training for active shooting situations; directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence; and many more.

"I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality," said the president, speaking about his full set of recommendations. "If there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."

The approach is so sweeping that what would have otherwise been a headline-grabbing announcement received second billing. The president on Wednesday will nominate Byron Todd Jones, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to take over the post permanently.

In total, the proposal goes beyond what most gun control advocates were hoping for at the start of Biden's review process, during which he held 22 different meetings with 229 different organizations and 31 elected officials. (read rest of article)

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