Obama announces 23 executive actions, asks Congress to pass gun laws
President Obama signs gun-violence-related executive actions following an announcement at the White House Wedensday.
January 16th, 2013
02:32 PM ET

Obama announces 23 executive actions, asks Congress to pass gun laws

  • President Barack Obama announces 23 executive actions on gun control, separately asks Congress to pass gun-control laws
  • Obama asks Congress to pass laws that would: require background checks on all gun sales; restore a ban on "military-style assault weapons"; ban gun magazines with capacities of more than 10 rounds; and toughen penalties on people who sell guns to those who can't have them
  • Below are the latest updates as they come to us. Also, you can read our full story, and check out details of Obama's plan.

[Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET] The National Rifle Association of America has issued a statement responding to Obama's announcement:

"Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority. The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to
protecting America's most valuable asset our children.

"Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."

[Updated at 12:43 p.m. ET] Senate Democratic leadership sources tell CNN that passing any new legislation will be extremely difficult because more than a dozen vulnerable Democrats from conservative states will probably resist much of what the president is pushing, according to CNN's Dana Bash.

These Democratic sources say the most likely legislation to pass will be strengthening background checks, since it is the least overt form of gun control and it also appeals to gun rights advocates' emphasis on keeping guns away from people with mental health and criminal problems.

[Updated at 12:42 p.m. ET] Reaction to Obama's announcement is starting to come in. From Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, whose state was the site of the December 14 school massacre that prompted Obama to examine gun control steps:

"In the hours after the worst of our fears were confirmed, in the midst of the grief and sorrow over the loss of 20 innocent children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was one question on the minds of people across Connecticut and around the nation: How do we make sure this never happens again? Today the president took the critical first step toward answering that question. The common sense measures he proposed today are something that we should all be able to agree on, and I want to commend him and the vice president for their work on this issue."

From Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner:

"House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations. And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that."

[Updated at 12:22 p.m. ET] The announcement is over, and Obama is signing the 23 executive actions. These actions are in addition to laws that Obama wants Congress to pass. Here, according to the White House, are the 23 executive actions that he and his administration will do:

1. "Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system."

2. "Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system."

3. "Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system."

4. "Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks."

5. "Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun."

6. "Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers."

7. "Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign."

8. "Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission)."

9. "Issue a presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations."

10. "Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement."

11. "Nominate an ATF director."

12. "Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations."

13. "Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime."

14. "Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence."

15. "Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies."

16. "Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes."

17. "Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities."

18. "Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers."

19. "Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education."

20. "Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover."

21. "Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges."

22. "Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations."

23. "Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health."

[Updated at 12:17 p.m. ET] Obama says he acknowledges that Americans have certain unalienable rights, but with those rights come responsibilities, and that Americans are "responsible for each other." These rights including those to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were denied to victims of high profile shooting such as those at Virginia Tech last decade and the December 14 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Obama called for public pressure on Congress and the gun lobby to push for stronger steps against gun violence, saying "the only way we can change is if the American people demand it."

"Let's do the right thing ... for (shooting victims) and for the country that we love so much. Thank you. I'm going to sign these orders," he said.

[Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET] More details on what Obama said about the 23 executive actions he's poised to take: The actions, he said, include those that would strengthening background checks on gun sales and expand safety programs in schools.

He hasn't said what all of the 23 actions would do.

[Updated at 12:09 p.m. ET] Obama says he will nominate B. Todd Jones, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as its permanent chief. The agency has lacked a permanent leader for six years.

[Updated at 12:07 p.m. ET]  Obama says he will sign 23 executive orders relating to this issue today.

He also will ask Congress to pass laws, including ones that would:

– require universal background checks (background checks on anyone who would buy a gun,  whether in stores or at auctions and conventions)

– restore a ban on "military-style assault weapons" (the ban expired in 2004)

– ban gun magazines with capacities of more than 10 rounds

– tougher penalties on people who sell guns to people who aren't allowed to have guns

[Updated at 11:59 a.m. ET] President Obama has started to speak, and he's thanking Biden for his work to recommend gun-control steps in the past couple of weeks.

Obama also is acknowledging four children who are sitting being and to the left of his podium. These children were asked to attend the announcement because they wrote letters to Obama after the December 14 shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, school.

The nation should be motivated to keep children such as these from harm, he said. "Their voices should compel us to change," and that's why he asked Biden to come up with recommendations that the country should execute "right now" to curb gun violence, Obama said.

[Updated at 11:56 a.m. ET] "The world has changed and it is demanding action, it is in this context that the president" asked me to come up gun-control recommendations, Biden said.

Some of the recommendations that Biden's task force gave to Obama on Monday include executive orders that the president can make without congressional approval, Biden said.

[Updated at 11:53 a.m. ET] Vice President Joe Biden has begun the event with an acknowledgement of the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, where 20 children and six women were killed. "It's been 33 days since (the nation's heart) has been broken" by the Newtown shooting, he said.

He's also addressing the Newtown victims' relatives who are attending the White House announcement.

[Initial post, 11:38 a.m. ET] The moment for President Barack Obama to announce his gun-control proposals is about to arrive.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are expected to unveil around 11:55 a.m. ET gun control proposals that, according to a source, will include background checks on all gun sales, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.

This post will have details on Obama's proposals as they are announced. Check this page starting just before noon ET, and refresh often for updates.

The announcement at the White House comes after Biden led a task force to make gun-control proposals, partly in response to a December 14 shooting that killed 20 children and six women at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

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NRA: Obama an ‘elitist hypocrite’

Opinion: No, hypocrisy is at the NRA

Oregon sheriff: 'Unconstitutional' gun control laws won't be enforced

GOP senator vows to fight ‘king’ Obama

soundoff (1,548 Responses)
  1. Tom

    What about increasing jail time for a felony with a gun? Make it really hurt to use a gun in a CRIME!

    The issue is still the CRIMINAL, they will use a gun, knife, hands to commit the crime. Punish the criminal...

    January 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. reno

    If a reinstatement of the "Assult Weapons Ban" passes, maybe we can get Afghanistan to also make semi-autos illegal. Just think of all the troops that can be saved.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scott

    It does not matter if I am for guns or against guns. This debate is about rights and liberties. It is irrelevant what rights would be given up, how insignificant the lost rights may be, what amount of safety will be gained...it is simply wrong to attempt to gain a since of safety by allowing the government more control, for any reason. If a people really cared about stopping violence, we would stop being lazy and come up with a solution by the people. We can accomplish any social change with the rights already afforded us with the proper motivation. Giving up liberties is simply not the proper method to obtain social changes. Excising our rights is.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Q. Public

      Muskets were firearms in our Finding Fathers' day. They couldn't image rapid fire guns that could spray a crowd in sports stadiums, school rooms or theaters. Do you think they would also want US citizens to have RPGs and/or nuclear weapons? Where do you draw he line?

      January 16, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annie

      Our founding fathers left the guns in the hands of the citizens to protect us from the government...a reminder to the government that if they tried anything along the lines of what is going on in Syria today, that "we the citizens" would take the country back from that government and create a new one.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. northerstar

    As a marketing & advertising professional and someone interested in this issue; I have say that the NRA ad about protecting Obama's kids in school with armed guards was the most ridiculous ad the NRA could have run. Everyone knows the First Family gets protection and not because their kids are better or more valuable; its because their kids are more likely to be TARGETED. Not because of the likelihood they might "be in the wrong place at the wrong time" when some lunatic decides to commit mass murder. Every child is valuable. If the NRA continues this nonsense up they will lose any support they have from open minded Americans who want to find a solution to an obviously growing problem.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Yes, Obama's kids are very high profile targets. So they get protection. Guess what? In America, I have never heard of anyone ever firing upon the Prez's kids. Know why? Because those that protect them are armed. No one wants to mess with them.

      Imagine if every school was armed even to half the degree, that would be the end of the threat. Same with any other places of gathering. But no, we are doing the opposite. We are taking away guns, making everyone even more vulnerable.

      So tell me again what we really have gained in all this hoopla?

      January 16, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. killerkrw

    Yeah the government gave me my weapons. I didn't work very hard to buy them, they were given to me.......

    January 16, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Viablanca

    your lack of firearms knowledge is showing, automatic weapons are not available to anyone, they only exist in the military, movies, video games, and talking points (except gangs and other criminals have illegally got their hands on quiet a few). Automatic means holding down the trigger and the weapon will continue to fire until all ammo is spent or the trigger is released. Semi auto means every time the trigger is squeezed a round, or bullet, is fired.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dave

    I wish Obama would go back to Kenya. Dang Muslim.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • voradtralundir

      If you were not part of the gene pool that existed on this contient before Columbus bumped into, it – I would urge you to go back to whatever hole you emerged from.

      January 16, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. idb

    So, basically, he is doing what the NRA has proposed for decades.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dave

    IMPEACHMENT proceedings to begin....

    January 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Perhaps you should find another place to live. I'm from Ct and am A:LL FOR Obama's good sense new gun laws.

      January 16, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    It is becoming increasingly more difficult for me to assume that CNN can remain unbias to so many important public issues. I need fair and balance assessment of what is going on in Washington DC. For Wolf to indicate his disappointment with the NRA for them talking about the president's children in their ad and at the same time remaining silent when the White House paraded and exploited small children in front of the country during today's gun policy press conference is alarming. I expect every CNN anchors to leave their personal bias at home when addressing the public. If they cannot, I'll find my news somewhere else.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jason

    Why does anyone need assault rifles if you are a private citizen? Just because. They were invented doesntmean you should be able to aquire them. Nuclear weapons were invented as well; des that mean any private citizen should be able to aquire them as well. You are all whiners. Get another hobby instead of collecting guns.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Maybe guns are a hobby. Many people collect them for various reasons. Either because of their performance, value, rarity, or even bling.

      Many people have sports cars. The cars can go well over the speed limit. Yet they are still legal to buy. Why? We presume the operator will act responsibly.

      Same argument with just about anything else worth collecting. Just because YOU don't see a value in it does not mean it does not exist. People collect Disney crap, that really does have a zero value when it all comes down to it. No one bashes them for it (except me, just now...)

      What do you collect?

      January 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lcleejr

    used to back the NRA 100%. their leaders sound crazy and stupid. what president obama is doing sounds good. don;t need assault weapon to protect family and myself.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. northerstar

    I am not a gun owner. I understand that no one "needs" an assault weapon but people like to "collect" all sorts of things. If guns are "your thing" then owning a set of antique Dueling Pistols doesn't mean you intend to have a duel with your neighbor. I am certain some gun collectors have an assault rifle "just because". It doesn't mean they are going to start a revolution or kill someone. I know many gun owners that keep every gun they own locked in a gun safe/vault and only they have the combination. Am I worried that they have an assault rifle ? No. Do I want one? No. Is an assault rifle deadly in the wrong hands? Yes; but so are several handguns shot until emptied. We need to stop arguing about "why someone needs an assault rifle" and start to identifying ways to stop the madness that is motivating the shootings.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • vdanker

      There comes a time when we have to give up our selfish "wants" for the good of society. This is one of those times. Collecting weapons is a "want" not a need. Protecting our society, and our children especially, is a "need". Learn the difference.

      January 16, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Martin

    Gun Bans will not work. Background / Mental heath maybe will work. They the politicians really need to focus on the Budget getting that resolved before we really go off a cliff. Budget? Our politicans spent more money today with the 23 proposals. Let see what was in the Hurricane relief package, where does the money actually go?
    Wise up America!

    January 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AK all Day

    I will never give up my AK.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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