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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soundoff (1,548 Responses)
  1. Chris

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

    Why is this at all necessary?

    January 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      Because there was question that it did prevent it. He made it clear that HIPAA doesn't apply, either.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • choppertrash

      They can also ask how many condoms I have in my bedside table or how many beers are in my fridge, but that does not mean they will get an answer...

      January 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. longshot

    "We don't benefit from ignorance" – Obama in speech today

    Actually, that's the whole GOP plan. Ignorance in science. Ignorance in economic theory. Ignorance in foreign affairs. That's the only thing keeping the GOP alive.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Wow. Just go ahead and fly the hammer and sickle

      January 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ben Franklin

    He wants to run background checks on law abiding American citizens, but won't require an ID to prove someone is an American citizen to vote. What a double standard. Is not requiring background checks racist in nature?

    January 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      "Law abiding Citizens" my a ss. I'd rather see a "crazy" running around with a paper ballot than one armed. with an AR-15. Ever get a speeding ticket ....Mr "law abiding citizen"?

      January 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mary

    NONE of this would have stopped Newtown from happening.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      If Lanza's psychiatrist knew he was showing signs of an impending psychotic break and knew he had access to guns in his home, it very well might have.

      This makes it easier for law enforcement to enforce existing laws and regulations. Nothing more. The real change, the big change, will come only if Congress has the guts to do it. (I'm not holding my breath.)

      January 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matt

    Wave bye bye to more freedoms.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorthVanCan

      By By.......

      January 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      How is enforcing laws that already exist taking away your freedom? Seriously, how?

      January 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sickened

      at DC1973
      Reinstating an assualt weapons ban is not existing law. Also, for your information, Columbine happened during the first assault weapon ban. We should be able to learn from history that this ban does not prevent nor stop such crimes.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. eric

    Hey CNN, nowhere on your website do i see anything about the shooting in KY today. Not important or just another story??

    January 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. callmecrazy

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

    Well there are your security guards in schools. I guess that just made this add obsolete. Maybe the NRA could help pay for the guards instead of wasting money bashing the president.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Terry

    Unless there is no stop on assualt weapons nothing is going to change...You cant really stop such incidents without making these changes...Why would someone need an assualt weapon in the first place.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sickened

      Columbine massacre happened during the first assault weapons ban. Help me understand why you think such a ban will stop these crimes when history proves it doesn't?

      January 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jay

    Just my 2 cents, but aren't we broke? How are we going to pay for this? I do agree with a few of his ideas, but not all, and especially not with hiring more government workers with guns. I agree with mental health diagnosis, and training existing school personel to be able to handle these situations, but that is it. Maybe we need some real world experience in classrooms, hire ex military to teach some classes. I'm pretty sure we can find qualified candidates for the job.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. pro-gunner

    look at that, not one thing to stop criminals. feel-good legislation at it's best.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lynndel Humphreys

    Mental health has always been a goal of tyrants.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • coffee cup

      Evidence and source please. Not wild accusations. Thank you.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jim Blake

    I have a question... The article mentioned 4 children from "A NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT SCHOOL"... No child from Sandy Hook wrote the President a letter? Or he chose these children from another CT school to be there when he signed these orders? Why wouldn't even ONE child from Sandy Hook write a letter or be there with him? Weren't they the ones who should have been most impacted by the shooting??? And the ones most impacted by his orders??? And the very REASON for his signing these orders???? .... Very interesting to me....

    January 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • brock

      maybe because after a shooting and having media and cameras in their faces for a month they don't want to be on TV or in front of a crowd

      January 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Blake

      They certainly didn't mind having cameras in their faces only a day after when many of them voluntarily went on TV (NOT CRYING, btw). What this is called is "EXPLOITING CHILDREN"

      January 17, 2013 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. Excellent!

    Americans slowly losing their rights! I love it. Soon you'll all be disarmed and we can expand Great Britain. Keep at it, Piers!

    January 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • brock

      please list which number of these orders reduce your rights

      January 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CClabear

    Obama recognizes that we have certain unalienable rights? "LIFE, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" If he recognizes these rights, then why is he Pro-Choice? Shouldn't EVERYONE be afforded these Rights!?!?! This clown should stop speaking out of both sides of his butt.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • svchost

      He doesn't recognize a fetus in early development as a person. That's the difference.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • KawiMan

      They want to run background checks on an unborn fetus, too!

      January 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. critical thinking

    Good idea to have background checks regardless of how or where you purchase a gun. But having kids around him when he signs this is even too below his usual threatrics. But while he has them there, he should explain that they each now will owe the federal government approx $50,000 for the current deficits and that it will be larger when they are adults trying to raise a family.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandman

      Background checks, fine. We get them anyway. Fund the damn system so it has all the information.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
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