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A Message from President Obama about Your Petition on Reducing Gun Violence
Bruce Reed December 21, 2012 06:00 AM EST
Ed. Note: Today, the White House responded to a number of petitions on We the People asking the Administration to take action to reduce gun violence in our country. The response is below and can be viewed on We the People here.
In the days since the tragedy in Newtown, Americans from all over the country have called for action to deter mass shootings and reduce gun violence. Hundreds of thousands of you have signed petitions on We the People.
I’m writing you today to thank you for speaking up, to update you on an important development, and to encourage you to continue engaging with the White House on this critical issue.
First, you should know that President Obama is paying close to attention to the public response to this tragedy. In fact, he sat down to record a message specifically for those of you who have joined the conversation using We the People. Watch it now:
On Wednesday, the President outlined a series of first steps we can take to begin the work of ending this cycle of violence. This is what he said:
We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. And as I said on Sunday night, there’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. We’re going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts.
But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence.
Vice President Biden has been asked to work with members of the Administration, Congress, and the general public to come up with a set of concrete policy proposals by next month — proposals the President intends to push swiftly. The President asked the Vice President to lead this effort in part because he wrote and passed the 1994 Crime Bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in America. That bill included the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
As the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, I’m going to do everything I can to ensure we run a process that includes perspectives from all sides of the issue, which is why I wanted to respond to your petition myself. Two decades ago, as domestic policy adviser in the Clinton White House, I first worked with Joe Biden as he fought to enact the Crime Bill, the assault weapons ban, and the Brady Bill. I will never forget what a key role the voices of concerned citizens like you played in that vital process.
The President called on Congress to pass important legislation “banning the sale of military-style assault weapons,” “banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips,” and “requiring background checks before all gun purchases, so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.”
An issue this serious and complex isn’t going to be resolved with a single legislative proposal or policy prescription. And let’s be clear, any action we take will respect the Second Amendment. As the President said:
Look, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s been handed down from generation to generation. Obviously across the country there are regional differences. There are differences between how people feel in urban areas and rural areas. And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible — they buy their guns legally and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection.
But you know what, I am also betting that the majority — the vast majority — of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. I’m willing to bet that they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas — that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily; that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone’s criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show; that if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown — or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.
The President said it best: “Ultimately if this effort is to succeed it’s going to require the help of the American people — it’s going to require all of you. If we’re going to change things, it’s going to take a wave of Americans — mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals — and, yes, gun owners — standing up and saying ‘enough’ on behalf of our kids.”
So let’s continue this conversation and get something meaningful done. If you have additional ideas and are interested in further engagement with the White House on this issue, please let us know and share your thoughts here:
Thank you for speaking out and staying involved.
Gun Violence Reduction Task Forcee
President Obama asked Vice President Biden to lead this effort in part because he wrote and passed the 1994 Crime Bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in America. That bill included the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
On January 9th and 10th Vice President Biden’s meets with victims groups, gun safety organizations, advocates for sportsmen and women, gun ownership groups and representatives of the entertainment and video game industries on how to prevent shooting massacres, and limit gun violence.
Other White House representatives also held meetings:
* Secretary Duncan meets with representatives from parent, teacher, and education groups.
* Secretary Sebelius meets with mental health and disability advocates.
* Senior White House staff meets with a variety of stakeholders, including medical groups, community organizations, child and family advocates, business owners, faith leaders, and others.
MEASURES CONGRESS SHOULD PASS RIGHT NOW:
“The most important changes we can make depend on congressional action. They need to bring these proposals up for a vote.”
President Obama is asking Congress to urgently introduce legislation to:
* Eliminate loopholes and require background checks for all gun sales
* Reinstate the prohibition on high-capacity magazines
* Renew and strengthen the ban on assault weapons
* Create serious penalties for gun traffickers
* Get armor-piercing bullets off the streets by prohibiting the possession and transfer of this dangerous ammunition
* Keep 15,000 cops on the street
* Further research on gun violence
* Help schools develop and implement comprehensive emergency management plans
* Remove restrictions that require ATF to authorize importation of dangerous weapons simply because of their age\
Supreme Court rules on ‘straw purchaser’ law
6/16/14 10 minutes ago By SAM HANANEL – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Supreme Court sided with gun control groups and the Obama administration Monday, ruling that the federal ban on “straw” purchases of guns can be enforced even if the ultimate buyer is legally allowed to own a gun.
The justices ruled 5-4 that the law applied to a Virginia man who bought a gun with the intention of transferring it to a relative in Pennsylvania who was not prohibited from owning firearms.
The ruling settles a split among appeals courts over federal gun laws intended to prevent sham buyers from obtaining guns for the sole purpose of giving them to another person. The laws were part of Congress’ effort to make sure firearms did not get into the hands of unlawful recipients.
Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan said the federal government’s elaborate system of background checks and record-keeping requirements help law enforcement investigate crimes by tracing guns to their buyers. Those provisions would mean little, she said, if a would-be gun buyer could evade them by simply getting another person to buy the gun and fill out the paperwork.
Kagan’s opinion was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often considered the court’s swing vote, as well as liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia said the language of the law does not support making it a crime for one lawful gun owner to buy a gun for another lawful gun owner. He was joined by the court’s other conservatives — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
The case began after Bruce James Abramski, Jr. bought a Glock 19 handgun in Collinsville, Virginia, in 2009 and later transferred it to his uncle in Easton, Pennsylvania. Abramski, a former police officer, had assured the Virginia dealer he was the “actual buyer” of the weapon even though he had already offered to buy the gun for his uncle using a police discount.
Abramski purchased the gun three days after his uncle had written him a check for $400 with “Glock 19 handgun” written in the memo line. During the transaction, he answered “yes” on a federal form asking “Are you the actual transferee buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form? Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.”
Police later arrested Abramski after they thought he was involved in a bank robbery in Rocky Mount, Virginia. No charges were ever filed on the bank robbery, but officials charged him with making false statements about the purchase of the gun.
A federal district judge rejected Abramski’s argument that he was not a straw purchaser because his uncle was eligible to buy firearms and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.
The Obama administration had argued that accepting Abramski’s defense would impair the ability of law enforcement officials to trace firearms involved in crimes and keep weapons away from people who are not eligible to buy them. The administration said that even if the purchase is made on behalf of someone eligible to buy a firearm, the purpose of the law is frustrated since Congress requires the gun dealers — not purchasers — to run federal background checks on people buying guns.
Companies with a gun-free policy:
- AMC Theaters
- Bank of America
- Buffalo Wild Wings
- California Pizza Kitchen
- CVS Pharmacy
- Disney World
- Jack in the Box
- Lowes Home Improvement Stores
- Peet’s Coffe & Tea
- Pizza Hut
- Sonic Drive-In
- Target Corportation
- Toys R Us