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. Tim

    But the POINT IS that the Connecticut shooter had access to an assault rifle which he could easily have used to kill even MORE children. Get it??

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

      I got it. How do you stop such a person.....Love....Talk...Oprara....a shot to the head?

      January 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John

    The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.

    Hilter Mein Kamf

    January 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jaba017

    Obama included Executive Order Number 26 to reward Biden for his efforts: No.26 DRINK MORE SCOTCH.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tiggy

    Background checks yes, bans no! CNN just reported that more kids of certain ages are killed by guns in the US than any other country. Less US kids are killed by bombs than other countries. An intent person will use what ever weapon is available. Lets address the problem not the symptom.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Pfau

      Well said.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chakosrealestate

    I find it amazing most of these executive orders aren't rules or laws already. These are common sense things, like making "relevant data available to the federal background check system," addressing "unnecessary legal barriers" like those HIPPA creates, and getting the ATF bureau head named. What is the NRA crabbing about?

    January 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • livingston

      I agree. They all make perfect sense. I worry about the people who are screaming about them. They seem like the dangerous ones.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC1973

      They are laws already. The Executive Orders just make them clearer, more specific, and more enforceable.

      Because that's what Executive Orders do.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Your intuition is correct, because most of them actually ARE laws already, just laws that are not enforced strictly by the agencies (like ATF) that are supposed to enforce them. In general, these executive orders are highlights of where the government has failed in what it's already been ordered to do. Your comment brings up one of the major arguments of 2nd Amendment protectors: that there are a TON of laws already on the books limiting the 2nd Amendment, and what's needed is NOT MORE laws but better enforcement of what's already on the books.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dino

    People with a possible mental illness will be deterred from seeking treatment from fear of being put into the system and discriminated against. The law doesn't differentiate between people suffering from social anxiety, OCD and mild depression and those diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The law is so cryptic that if you are receiving marriage counseling from a psychologist you may be deemed mentally unstable, your gun license can be revoked and your guns could be confiscated.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Becemy

      Bingo!! Too bad many others out there can't see this.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Geezer

    It all seems reasonable (if not mild). I think all new gun owners should be made to take a decent gun safety course stressing proper gun storage as well, before being allowed to purchase a weapon.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Patroit

      Absolutely right – we need some common sense laws in place for gun ownership.

      Why the heck does anyone need an assault rifle with 10+ mag/clip with armor piercing bullets. What they need instead is some testosterone pills

      January 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • RDM

      I agree with Geezer. The executive orders signed today seem mild, but might be expensive. The mass shootings around the country have obviously been a tragedy that is too hard for most of us to comprehend. However, I believe if this much effort (Executive and Legistlative Branch action) were put into reducing hospital infections, and highway safety improvements, tens of thousands could be saved, each year.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      They should also all have to apply for licenses to own any type of gun, and they should have to renew it every so often (and take a gun safety course in order to qualify for license renewal). They should also have to carry insurance. Something is wrong when we are more strict on people owning CARS in this country than weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing people.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • James Nasium

      Well, having CPSC look at the *standards for gun safes and locks is a LONG way from mandating it. And he didn't take this step that you – and many others – think should be common sense. It just proves that 'sense' is not that common – he's a political animal, and doing no more than he thinks he absolutely has to. Republicans/Democrats – they're all the same in that regard.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sy2502

    Milton Friedman said:“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

    January 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sy2502

      Look at the results (or lack thereof) of the Clinton era bans and you'll get your answers on the effectiveness of this one.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sy2502

      Chicago is another great example of how gun laws don't work.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Wan

    I wonder when the genocide will start!

    It's really funny people think it's about the guns. Breaking news, it's not about the guns, it's about CONTROL.

    Obama had to do executive orders because his poor false flag at Sandy Hook is falling by the minute and people are waking up.

    Liberals don't even get that "Assault rifles" kills account for only 3% of total firearm murders. ONLY 3%. What you are doing is giving your freedoms away and disarming us. Obama knows the economic collapse is coming because he has been planning it all along. He wants to make sure we are disarm by the point we get there.

    Once rifles are taken away, Obama only has to do more false flags with handguns and such and get them banned too. God, I * hate Liberals and the brainless TV viewers.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      Hateful, paranoid people like you should be banned from owning guns. You are a danger to society.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brimstone

      Apparently you also hate thinking, but hey I guess believing the paranoid delusions are more fun...

      January 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bill


    January 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Yup..Obama is for armed guards in school....thanks to the NRA for helping him get that one in there!

      January 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • CHRIS

      Where was the ban? He didn't do anything major other than call for some positional appointment and say "you states and officials need to talk to each other regarding background checks".

      January 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. josh o

    12 18 and 19 were proposed by Wayne LaPierre a week after the CT massacre. When any one scared of guns can tell me without a doubt that no one in the whole world has any bad intention to do any ill will to any body on the planet, I MIGHT put my guns down, or just use them for hunting. Until then, I will stay armed and ready to protect my friends, family and those around me with my life and the tools to accomplish that. If you feel like guns aren't for you, please don't use them but please stay out of my life, my choices for protection, hobbies and freedom. 1+ for this is a waste of time for the POTUS. Some one please tell me when a Utopia of respect and understanding happens... I'll be waiting anxiously for that day, unit then I have several guns and ammo for people who don't believe in respect and peaceful coexistence.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rlmoorex

    There is certainly good in the 23 executive actions. Also, I have no problem with the proposed "assault weapons ban." However, a "ban" does not keep my kids safer. That is because that only takes 1.7% of all weapons out of the mix. And that only takes the 1.7% out of the hands of those that follow the laws. What about the other 98.3%? And as for the background check, good! But, without question, the bad guys will not play along. These guys have acquired the target, but missing. They are not playing a good game of chess here.

    January 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. WAX171

    is that it? hard to see how it would have prevented Sandy Hook.

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

    24. Direct the Attorney General not to give guns to criminals.

    January 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Logan9775

    After they take our guns, the next thing we'll here will be, "I have determined that there are certain books, movies, and games that are bad for the "mental health" of Americans..."

    Echoes of Hitler.

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

      Exactly who is asking for your guns? Come to think of it – if you're that paranoid maybe someone should.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
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