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Obama Gun Control Speech LIVE: Assault Weapons Ban and Mental Health Checks to Be Pushed By President

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Obama Gun Control Speech Outlines 23 Directives He Will Pass: Assault Weapons Ban Included

Obama on Wednesday highlighted the streak of mass shootings in 2012, punctuated with the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary ... the watershed moment that has forced him to act on the gun control matter. 

"Our first task as a society is to keep our children safe," Obama said.

He added: "We can't push this off any longer."

Obama explained, "I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership."

More than 900 Americans have died of gun violence since Sandy Hook, Obama outlined.

"I'm putting forward a specific set of proposals ... and intend to use the weight of this office to achieve them."

"If there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, then we've got an obligation to try."

The president called for: 

- A focus on universal background checks. Right now some 40 percent of gun sales take place without background checks, including by private sellers at gun shows or over the Internet, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

- A ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds or fewer.

- A federal statute to stop "straw man" purchases of guns and crack down on trafficking rings.

- More anti-bullying efforts; more training for teachers, counselors and principals; and funding for schools for more counselors and resource officers.

Read the full plan here.

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Obama Gun Control Plan: Read President's "Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence."

* Require criminal background checks for all gun sales.

* Take four executive actions to ensure information on dangerous individuals is available to the background check system.

* Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.
* Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
* Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.
* Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.
* End the freeze on gun violence research.
* Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.
* Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.
* Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

Read the full plan here.

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Joe Biden On Gun Control: The World is Demanding Action

The world has changed, and is demanding action.

- Vice President Joe Biden

 

The vice president, in introducing President Obama, explains quickly the rationale for the president pushing for these gun control measures.

"We should do as much as we can, as quickly as we can," Biden says. 

The vice president, surrounded by young children and survivors of past mass shootings, points to the tragedy at Virginia Tech, and outlines that we constantly see the same tragedies happening ... so why not start now?

Obama Gun Control Speech LIVE Stream: President Presents His 3-Part Plan

Obama is set to push for comprehensive, "broad," gun control measures in his Wednesday speech (scheduled for 11:55 a.m.), measures which range from an assault weapons ban to anti-bullying efforts. 

Only few details from the speech have emerged.  

According to a lobbyist briefed Tuesday on the speech, Obama will present a three-part plan focused on gun violence, education, and mental health. He'll call for:

- A focus on universal background checks. Right now some 40% of gun sales take place without background checks, including by private sellers at gun shows or over the internet, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

- A ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds or fewer.

- A federal statute to stop "straw man" purchases of guns and crack down on trafficking rings.

- More anti-bullying efforts; more training for teachers, counselors and principals; and funding for schools for more counselors and resource officers.

Obama also will order federal agencies to conduct more research on gun use and crimes, the lobbyist said, something Republican congressional majorities have limited through language in budget bills.

Another School Shooting in America

STLToday is reporting on the shooting: 

A long-time employee of Stevens Institute of Business & Arts was shot by an on-again, off-again student, who then shot himself Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Both men were in surgery at 3 p.m. and St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said he was "hopeful" both men would survive after the shooting, about 2 p.m.

Authorities said the victim, in his late 40s, was shot in the chest with a handgun by a student, 21, in a fourth-floor office, police said. The suspected shooter then went to a stairwell between the third and fourth floors and shot himself. Dotson said a gun was found with the man.

The suspected shooter was a spart-time student for the last four years, Dotson said.

The event comes as Obama prepares to give a major gun control speech. Obama will act unilaterally on the gun control issue via executive order. Such action would bypass Congress and the presumed legislative gridlock.

During the speech, Obama will be joined by several leading mayors (we're guessing New York City Mike Bloomberg will be front-and-center, as he is staunchly anti-gun) in his announcement and is expected to implement most, if not all, of the 19 executive orders which range from expanding background check requirements to dedicating resources to the enforcement of mental health checks and inter-state communication.

The will undoubetedly spark a major partisan debate: conservatives and pro-gun advocates are calling out the president for failing to use the legislative process and would be inflamed over the issue. 

The conservative Drudge Report compared executive action to dictators Hitler and Stalin. 

The backlash could be immense and could cost Obama leverage in future political battles, most notably the coming debt ceiling fight next month.

Obama has often pulled the "popular mandate" card, saying that his re-election in November proves Americans are behind him ... almost hinting at persumed unconditional support among voters. 

But what do the American people really think about the gun debate? Well, for starters, just 4% of Americans identify guns as the nation's top problem, as Gallup reports.

The polling data on more specific policy issues is completely divided, with no clear consensus on what to do.

Still, the issue has come to a head. Since 2005, when the assault weapons ban expired, there have been 32 mass public shootings, including seven in 2012 (adding up to 20% of all mass public shootings over the last two decades). Whether voters identify guns as a problem or not, politicians are looking to address the issue immediately. 

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St. Louis College Shooting: At Least 1 Dead At School Shooting

A day before Obama is set to unveil his gun violence measures, there has been another school shooting.

The event will likely play into Obama's gun control speech, set for Wednesday. In that speech, Obama will likely seek an assault weapons ban and will look to strengthen background checks for gun buyers. 

Will this event impact the on-going gun debate?

STLToday is reporting on the shooting: 

A shooting has been reported at the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts at 1521 Washington Avenue.

At least one person was injured by the gunman, according to police scanner traffic. The suspected gunman, believed to be a 21-year-old man, was reported to have shot himself.

Two men were brought from the building on stretchers and loaded into ambulances. One left immediately while the other was idling in front of the building.

Nearly two dozen squad cars are out around the building. Helicopters are flying overhead.

SWAT teams were moving through the building ensuring each floor was clear.

Authorities have closed off Washington Avenue between 15th and 18th streets and St. Charles Avenue at 14th Street.

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Obama Will Announce Gun Control Measures Wednesday

While we wait for Biden's recommendations to become public today, sources close to the White House have shared that the president will unveil his intent to act on Biden's 19 recommended executive orders in an event on Wednesday.

Obama will be joined by several leading mayors (we're guessing Bloomberg will be front and center) in his announcement and is expected to implement most, if not all, of the 19 executive orders which range from expanding background check requirements to dedicating resources to the enforcement of mental health checks and inter-state communication.

 

 

Impeach Obama: Rep. Steve Stockman Says Any Executive Order On Gun Control Will Be Met With Impeachment

Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman threatened on Monday that he would file articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama if he institutes gun control measures with an executive order.

Stockman warned that such executive orders would be “unconstitutional” and “infringe on our constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms.”

“Any proposal to abuse executive power and infringe upon gun rights must be repelled with the stiffest legislative force possible,” Stockman continued. “Under no circumstances whatsoever may the government take any action that disarms any peaceable person — much less without due process through an executive declaration without a vote of Congress or a ruling of a court.”

While some extreme pro-gun advocates consider any gun control measures as complete opposition to the Second Amendment, gun control efforts have historically been allowed by courts, and the Second Amendment has never been tightly read to mean that gun control is unconstitutional.

Impeachment, then, is extreme.

And, besides, executive orders are made everyday ... what would make a gun control executive order any different?

Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which may include the removal of that official from office as well as criminal or civil punishment.

Article 1 of the Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments. Conviction requires a two-thirds vote.

Impeachment does not necessarily result in removal from office; it is only a legal statement of charges. Although the subject of the charge is criminal action, it does not constitute a criminal trial; the only question under consideration is the removal of the individual from office, and the possibility of a subsequent vote preventing the removed official from ever again holding political office in the jurisdiction where he was removed.

Any impeachment against Obama for gun control would end up looking like a massive circus, proving Congress are just a bunch of clowns. 

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An Obama Gun Control Executive Order Could Sink the President's Favorability

Picture Credit: kulturekritic

Could Obama be wasting valuable political capital by issuing an executive order on gun control? 

If Obama acts unilaterally on gun control, the event will likely fire-up conservatives and pro-gun advocates, calling out the president for failing to use the legislative process. 
 
The conservative Drudge Report compared executive action to dictators Hitler and Stalin. 
 
The backlash could be immense and could cost Obama leverage in future political battles, most notably the coming debt ceiling fight next month.
 
Obama has often pulled the "popular mandate" card, saying that his re-election in November proves the American people are behind him ... almost unconditionally. 
 
But what do the American people really think about the gun debate. Well, for starters, just 4% of Americans identify guns as the nation's top problem, per Gallup.
 
Based on that alone, Obama may think twice about pushing popcorn policies that will only splash onto headlines and divide Americans. Any executive action could even hurt his favorability rating, and by extension his ability to negotiate in the future.
 
So more polls (it's safe to say America is all over the place):

Pew55% favor a ban on assault-style weapons (69% of Democrats and 44% of Republicans)... By a two-to-one margin (64%-32%), most favor putting armed security guards and police in more schools. But when it comes to more teachers and school officials having guns, most are opposed (40% favor vs. 57% oppose). 

ABC/Washington Post52% say the Newtown shootings made them more supportive of gun control ... 58% support renewing the assault-weapons ban. 

Gallup38% of Americans are dissatisfied with the nation's gun laws and want them strengthened. This is up from 25% who held this set of views a year ago, and is the highest since 2001. Still, more Americans are either satisfied with current gun laws, 43%, or think they should be loosened, 5%.

Portland Press Herald of Maine: 55% have a gun on their property ... 79% of Mainers support some restrictions on owning guns, and 61% support banning high-capacity ammunition clips that can hold more than 10 bullets. 51% support banning semi-automatic guns. Notably, independent Sen. Angus King expressed coolness yesterday to an assault weapons ban: "The biggest issue to me is the size of the magazines," he said on CBS. "That's sort of the common thread that connects a lot of these massacres."

Fairleigh Dickinson University of New Jersey: 61% support reducing violence in movies and video games. 45% are in favor of placing armed guards in public places. 

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Reid Signals That New Assault Weapons Ban Unlikely

Like I said three weeks ago, a push for a new assault weapons ban would be political suicide for Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a well-known supporter of gun rights, has acknowledged that he agrees.

Speaking to Nevada press, Reid indicated that a new federal gun law probably wouldn't pass this Congress. "Let’s be realistic. In the Senate, we’re going to do what we think can get through the House," said Reid, "and I’m not going to be going through a bunch of these gyrations just to say we’ve done something."

Reid's hesitance to pursue sweeping federal gun control suggests that congressional Democrats are uneasy about spending political capital on gun control regulations that wouldn't pass a GOP House. 

It remains to be seen whether congressional gun control advocates will pursue smaller measures such as magazine size restrictions but the political risk of a sweeping new law similar to the one that cost the Democrats control of Congress in the 90's appears to be too great to pursue.

This makes Vice President Biden's proposed 19 executive actions even more important as they may be the oinly realistic gun control measures to see implementation in the forseeable future.

 

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Obama Gun Control Speech LIVE: Assault Weapons Ban and Mental Health Checks to Be Pushed By President

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the gun control debate has reached fever pitch. In the weeks since, President Obama has designated VP Joe Biden as the point man for a White House gun control panel.

Biden on Thursday was set to meet with a number of related groups in the gun control debate, including policy leaders, entertainment industry members, and lobbyists.  

Biden, in remarks on Wednesday, hinted that the president could act unilaterally on this issue with some sort of executive order.  

"As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, they're worth taking. But I'm convinced we can affect the well-being of millions of Americans and take thousands of people out of harm's way if we act responsibly," Biden said.

According to the Washington Post, the administration is contemplating a set of proposals that would seek to tackle the gun issue in a more comprehensive manner. The proposals are as follows: require universal background checks for gun buyers; create a national database that would include information about gun sales; make it more difficult for those who suffer from a mental illness to acquire a gun by toughening the mental health background checks; and impose stiff penalties on those who provide guns to minors or possessing firearms close to a school.

The exact sort of executive action Obama would take is unclear. Still, the act of going it alone does bring up questions about whether the president would craft a policy that is in line with the national attitude ... and is viewing Congress as an ineffectual outlet to make rapid decisions.

Biden has made clear that the administration will do something.

Sandy Hook capped a wild year filled with high-profile mass shootings. In 2012 alone, over 140 people have been killed or injured by mass shooters in the United States.

One issue being presented in Congress is a second-coming of the Dianne Feinstein assault weapons ban. In September 1994, Congress passed the original Feinstein law that banned many types of assault of weapons. The bill barred the production of 18 varieties of semiautomatic weapons, and it also prevented the production of “high-capacity magazine that could carry more than 10 rounds.” In 2004, the Republican-controlled Congress decided not to renew the assault ban weapon.

The new bill that Feinstein, who was also behind the original measure, plans to introduce in the new Congress will be similar to the 1994 bill. Feinstein’s bill will prohibit the “sale, transfer, the importation and the possession, not retroactively, but prospectively,” of assault weapons that hold more than 10 bullets. President Obama indicated that he will support the proposed legislation.

The biggest pro-gun lobby, the NRA, has ripped the bill and many conservatives are calling such action an affront to their constitutionally-protected rights. Their efforts are seeing growing enthusiasm. The NRA has told Politico that it has gained over 100,000 new paid members in the past 18 days (Newtown shooting was Dec. 14), from 4.1 million to 4.2 million: "Our goal is to get to 5 million before this debate is over." Membership is $25, and comes with a choice of three gifts: Rosewood Handle Knife, Black & Gold Duffel Bag or Digital Camo Duffel Bag. 

Recent Gallup polls show that a majority of Americans (51%) still oppose an AWB, while 44% are for it. However, 92% of Americans support requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows.

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