Obama lays out proposal for reducing gun violence
Announces plans to use 23 executive actions
- Duration 24:37
- Date Jan 16, 2013
Announces plans to use 23 executive actions
Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
Through this room.
Please please be -- -- -- Before us.
For -- begin -- in the media.
Say the families of the innocents who were murdered 33 days ago.
Our heart our heart goes out -- you.
And you show incredible courage incredible courage being here and the president hired him do everything.
In our power to.
Honor the memory of your children and their wives who what's -- with the work we take up period today.
It's been 33 days since the nation's heart was broken by the horrific and senseless violence that took place it's and you can elementary school.
Twenty beautiful first -- gunned down place that's supposed to be her second sanctuary.
Six members of the staff killed.
Trying to save those children.
It's literally been hard for the -- comprehend.
-- commission to -- And I know for the families who are here.
The time is not measured in days.
For this measured in minutes.
Since you received that news.
Another minute without your daughter.
Without your -- Another minute without your way from the minute we -- tomorrow.
I want to personally thank -- Chris -- McDonald who lost a beautiful daughter grace.
In the other parents who I had a chance to speak to.
For their suggestions and for again just from there -- The courage of all of you to.
To be here today.
I I admire.
I admired Greece.
And the resolve that you all show.
And I must say I've been deeply affected by your faith is well.
And the president are gonna do everything to tried to match to resolve -- demonstrated.
No -- know for certain if this sense of -- could have been prevented.
We all know we have a moral obligation a moral obligation to everything and our power to diminish the prospect.
To some -- this could happen again.
As -- president who knows I've worked in this field.
Come a long time in the United States senate.
Having chaired a committee that had jurisdiction over these issues of guns and crime.
And having drafted the first I'm -- -- violence legislation.
The last gun violence associations that.
And I have no illusions about were up against -- what we're up against her how hard the task is in front of us but I also.
Never seen the nation's conscience so shaken.
By what happened is sandy hook the world -- changed.
Fast demanding action.
It's in this context the president asked me to put together along with cabinet member's specific recommendations about how we should proceed.
To meet that moral obligation we have and toward that end.
The cabinet members and I sat down with 229.
Groups not just individuals were resilient group.
Groups from law enforcement agencies to public health officials to -- officials to -- advocacy groups.
Two sportsmen and hunters and religious leaders so.
And I've spoken with members of congress from both sides of the aisle have extensive conversation with mayors and governors and -- county officials and the recommendations we've tried to the president on Monday.
Call for executive actions he could sign legislation -- he could call for.
And long term research should be undertaken there based on the emerging consensus we heard from all the groups with -- we spoke including.
Some of you who were the victims of this god awful.
-- Ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands as well as ways to take conference -- action to prevent violence in the first place.
We should do as much as we can as quickly as you can we cannot let the perfect -- the -- really good stuff.
Some of what you'll hear from the president will happen immediately some -- take some time.
But we had begun and we are starting here today we resolved to continue this fight during the meetings that we held.
We met with young man who's here today I think Colin Goddard news here -- you can't.
-- was so one of the survivors so the U Virginia Tech massacre he was in the classroom.
He calls himself one of the lucky seven.
And and he'll tell you he was shot four times on that day and he has three -- are still inside.
And when I ask Colin about what he thought we should be doing and he said that he said I'm not here because of what happened to me.
I'm here because of what happened to me keeps happening to other people.
And we have to do something about it.
Colin I promise you we grow.
This is our intention.
We must do what we can now.
There's no person who is more committed.
On this moral obligation we have then the president of the United States of America ladies and gentlemen president Barack Obama.
-- -- -- -- It -- way except straight good afternoon everybody.
-- what -- begin by thanking.
Our vice president Joseph Biden -- for your dedication joke to this issue for bringing so many different voices to the table.
Because while reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge.
Protecting our children from harm shouldn't be a divisible.
Over the months since the tragedy in Newtown.
We've heard from so many and obviously none.
Have affected us more than the fairways.
Of those gorgeous children.
And their teachers and guardians who.
Who were lost and and so we're grateful to all of you for taking the time to be here and recognizing that we honor their memories in part by doing everything we can't prevent this from happening again.
-- we also heard from some of -- unexpected people in particular I start getting a lot of letters from kids.
Former here today grant Frist.
Tennessee hunt and to -- good.
They're pretty representative of some other messages that I got these are some pretty Smart letters from.
Some pretty Smart young people.
Hit up the third grader.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- road.
I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children.
I love my country.
And I want everybody to be happy and safe.
And then grant.
-- -- -- -- I think there should be some changes.
We should learn from what happened to that sandy hook -- I feel really bad.
And then Julius said.
-- -- I'm not scared for my safety I'm scared for others.
I have four Brothers and sisters and I know I would not be able to bear the thought.
Of losing any of them.
These are our kids.
Is what they're thinking about.
And so what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for them.
And shield them from harm.
And give them the tools they need to grow up.
And do everything that they are capable of doing not just pursue their own dreams but to help build this country.
This is our first task as a society.
Keeping our children safe.
This is how.
We will be judged.
And their voices.
Should compel us to change.
And that's why last month I -- -- to lead an effort along with members of my cabinet.
To come up with some concrete steps we can take right now.
To keep our children safe.
To help prevent mass shootings.
To reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.
And we can't put this off any longer.
Just last Thursday as TV networks were covering one of Joe's meetings.
On this topic.
News broke of another school shooting this one in California.
In the month.
Sensed when he precious children and six brave adults were -- taken from us at sandy hook elementary.
More than 900.
Of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of -- -- 900.
In the past month.
And every day we wait.
That number will keep brought.
So I'm putting forward.
A specific set of proposals.
Based on the work.
-- task force.
And in the days ahead I'm tend to use whatever weight this office holds.
To make them reality.
Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent.
Every senseless act of violence completely.
No piece of legislation that will.
Every tragedy every act of evil.
If there was even one thing we can do.
To reduce this violence.
If there's even one life that can be saved.
We've got an obligation to try.
And I'm gonna do my part.
As soon as I'm finished speaking here -- -- of that desk and I'll sign a directive giving law enforcement.
School's mental health professionals and the public health community.
Some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence -- We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening.
The background check system.
We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them and develop emergency preparedness points.
We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence.
Even as we acknowledge that someone where they mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrators.
And -- year after year.
Those who oppose even modest gun safety measures have threatened to defund -- scientific or medical research into the cause of gun violence.
I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce.
And congress should fund research.
Into the effects that violent video games have on young minds.
We don't benefit from ignorance.
We don't benefit from not knowing.
This -- epidemic of violence.
Are these are few of the 23 executive actions that I'm announcing today but as important as these steps are.
They are in no way a substitute for action for members of congress.
To make a real and lasting difference.
Congress to must -- And congress must act soon.
And I'm calling on congress to pass some very specific proposals.
First it's time for congress to work -- a universal background check.
For anyone trying to buy -- got.
The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks and over the last fourteen years that's kept one point five million of the wrong people from getting their hands on the -- But it's hard to enforce that law -- as many as 40% of all gun purchases.
Are conducted without a background check.
That's not safe.
Let's not Smart.
It's not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers.
If you want to buy a god.
Whether it's from a licensed dealer or a private seller you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying what.
This common sense.
An overwhelming majority of Americans agree -- us on the need for universal background checks including more than 70%.
Of the national rifle association's members according to one server.
So there's no reason we can't do this.
Congress should restore ban on military style assault weapons.
And a ten round limit for magazines.
The type of assault rifle used in a roar for example when paired with -- high capacity magazines has one purpose.
To pump out as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible.
To do as much damage.
Using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage.
And that's what allowed the gunman in Aurora to shoot seventy.
Certainly people killing twelve.
In a matter of minutes.
Weapons design from the fear of war.
Have no place in a movie theater.
A majority of Americans.
Agree with a -- And by the way so did Ronald Reagan.
One of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment who wrote to congress in 1994.
Urging that this is Ronald Reagan speak.
Urging them to listen to the American public -- -- the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacturer of military style assault weapons.
And finally congress needs to help rather than hinder law enforcement as it does its job.
We should get tougher on people who buy guns with a express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals.
And we should severely punish anybody who helps.
-- -- -- -- Since congress hasn't confirmed director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in six years.
They should confirm.
Todd Jones who will be.
Who has been acting and I will be nominating for the post.
Then at a time when budget cuts are forcing many communities to reduce their police force.
We should put more cops back on the job and back on our streets.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- like most Americans I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms.
Our respect our strong tradition of gun ownership.
And the rights of hunters and sportsmen.
There are millions of responsible law abiding gun owners in America who cherish the right to bear arms for hunting or sport.
I also believe most -- owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping.
And irresponsible law breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.
I believe most of them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
There would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in new -- That's what these reforms are designed to do their common sense measures.
They have the support of the majority of the American people.
-- And yet that doesn't mean any of this is going to be easy to -- or implement.
-- -- were regarding have universal background checks.
The ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines never would have been allowed to expire.
More of our fellow Americans.
Might still be a lot celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduation -- This will be difficult.
There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists.
Publicly warning -- -- to read too radical all out assault on liberty.
Now because that's true.
They want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.
And behind the scenes they'll do everything -- camp.
To block any common sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever.
The only way we will be able to change is if their audience their constituents their membership.
Says this time must be different.
-- this time.
We must do something to protect our communities -- it's.
I won't put.
Everything I've got a nervous and soldier -- But I tell you.
The only way we can change.
That the American people demand.
And by the way that doesn't just mean.
From certain parts of the country.
We're gonna need voices.
In those areas in those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong.
To speak up -- the say this is important.
It can't just be the usual suspects.
We have to examine ourselves and our hearts.
And I ask ourselves what is important.
This will not happen unless the American people demand it.
If parents and teachers police officers and pastors.
-- hunters and sportsmen.
It's responsible gun owners if Americans of every background stand up and say enough.
We suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continued.
Then change -- Change will -- That's what it's gonna take.
There on the letter that.
Julia wrote me she said.
I know that laws have to be passed by congress.
But I beg you to try very or.
-- I will try very hard.
But she's right.
The most important changes we can make depend on congressional action.
They need -- for bringing these proposals operate vote.
And the American people need to make sure that they do.
Get them on record.
Pastor member of congress if they support universal background checks to keep guns out -- wrong hands.
Ask them if they support renewing a ban on -- Terry style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
And if they say no.
Asked them why not.
Ask them what's more important.
Doing whatever it takes to get a a -- from the gun lobby that fund their campaigns or.
Giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade.
Just the land of the free and it always will be.
As Americans we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights that no man or government can take away -- What we've also long recognized.
As our founders recognize that -- -- rights come responsibilities.
Along with our freedom to live our lives as we will -- an obligation.
-- allow others to do the same.
We don't live in isolation.
We live in a society.
A government of and by and for the people.
We are responsible.
For each other.
-- the right to worship freely and safely that Wright was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek Wisconsin.
The right to assemble piece of what.
That Wright was denied shoppers.
Plaque from a sword and moviegoers and Aurora Colorado.
That most fundamental set of rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness fundamental rights that.
There were denied to college students of Virginia -- And high school students a column by an elementary school students in new -- And kids on street corners in Chicago.
On to frequent a basis to tolerate.
-- all the families who never imagined.
The -- lose a loved ones to -- Those rights are at stake.
And when -- -- Newtown last month I spent some private time where many of the families who lost the children that day and one was the family of grace McDonnell.
Grace's parents are here.
-- was seven years old when she was struck down.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- She loved the beach.
She dreamed of becoming a pain -- And so just before -- left.
Gave me -- repayments.
And I hung -- in my -- study just off the Oval Office.
And every time I look at that -- I think about race.
And I think about the life that she lived.
And the life that way ahead of her.
And most of all I think about how when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us we must act now.
For the 2.5 other innocent children and devoted educators.
Who had so much left to give.
For the men and women in big cities and small towns -- fall victim to senseless violence each and every day.
For all the Americans were counting on us.
To keep them safe from -- Let's do the right thank.
Let's do the right thing for them.
And for this country that we love so much.