Obama Talks Gun Violence and Executive Actions From White House
On Tuesday, United States President Barack Obama took to a podium at the White House to discuss the executive actions that the White House unveiled on Monday, intended to target the epidemic of gun violence in the country.
Obama was surrounded by victims of gun violence, including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in Tucson, Arizona, five years ago this week, as well as their families. Mark Barden, the father of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre, introduced the President.
“In the three years since those 26 precious lives were lost at that school, far too many more lives have been lost to gun tragedies in this country,” said Barden. “Far too many people who are hearing these words are grieving a loss due to gun violence. As a nation, we have to do better. We are better. We’re better than this.”
When he took to the stage, President Obama went through the list of some of the most notorious shootings that have occurred during his tenure, from San Bernardino to Sandy Hook to Oak Creek to Fort Hood. “It’s too many,” insisted Obama, echoed by a group of audience members.
“The United States of America is not the only country with violent or dangerous people, we are not inherently more prone to violence, but we are the only advanced country on earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency,” said the president. “It just doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close … Somehow, we’ve become numb to it.”
Obama outlined the major points of his executive actions:
1) Expanded and improved background checks: “Anyone in the business of selling guns must get a license and conduct background checks, no matter whether you’re doing it at a gun show or on the Internet,” said Obama, seeking to close a long-exploited loophole. The president explained that his administration would also work to make the background check system more efficient, in part by hiring more examiners to process the applications.
2) Improve the enforcement of laws already on the books: Obama says that his plan includes the hiring of more than 200 new ATF agents.
3) Help the mentally ill: Obama pointed out that while mass shootings get the most attention, 2 in 3 gun deaths are from suicide. “A lot of our work is to prevent people from hurting themselves,” he said, adding that $500 million will be invested to expand the treatment of the mentally ill.
4) Improve gun safety technology: Obama wondered why a young child can’t open a bottle of aspirin but can easily pull a trigger on a gun, and why he can use technology to find his misplaced iPad but not a stolen gun.
“We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world,” said President Obama. “But maybe we could try to stop one act of violence, one act of evil.”
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