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. Vin King

    I'm a staunch pro-2a libertarian, and former Marine. Anything that proposes to eliminate civil liberties for the sake of false safety is just reprehensible. As such, I am completely against the idea that a so-called "assault weapons" ban or magazine limitation would have any sort of correlation to reduced gun violence, because these weapons aren't used in the majority of gun crimes in the US. Barking up the wrong tree there.

    That said, I do fully support some of the proposals offered by the President, including stiffer punishments for straw purchasers, stiffer penalties for using guns in crimes, better prosecution of individuals under existing law, and better information sharing for the Instant NCIS system.

    I also fully support studies into why spree killers do what they do. We are sorely lacking data on this phenomenon, which the vast majority of law abiding gun owners do not take part in.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Insanityrains

    Here it is in a nutshell......He is going to....Issue, Address, Improve, Direct, Propose, Publish Launch, Review, Issue, Release, Nominate, Provide, Maximize, Issue, Direct, Clarify, Release, Provide, Develop, Release, Finalize, Commit, and Launch. These Issue memorandums, Release Letters, and Spend lots and lots of money to train and tell people things they already know!! I feel safer already.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tink

    #24 Do not arm the Mexican Cartel with US supplied Automatic Assualt Weapons that will later be used against US Law enforcement and US citizens.

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

    To Whoever Is Advising The President,
    Every executive order that the President signed today is already in affect. The NCIC database, already used by law enforcement, ATF Reverse search on firearms already tracks weapons to the manufacture, and there are laws against "straw purchases." So, again the president has shown he dosent properly research anything before he makes a decision. Today, he acted Stupidly!!!! Thank you, that is all.

    January 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RudyG

    You have to look at the failures of the government in the mental health arena!! And Obama, like every other president, has been totally negligent. Now he has a national outcry, so he does politics! Again. Remember the millions of jobs he promised to create? Tell me in 4 years how he did.

    January 16, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • lakersrworthy

      Yes! Obama did predict creating more jobs than he actually has... But you should ask yourself this question first... How many MORE jobs could have been created if CONGRESS had not shot down a lot of his bills? You fail to ask yourself that question for some reason!

      January 16, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loreeeee

      Maybe you missed the mental health part?

      January 16, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack

    Like sodas no gun weighing more than 16oz can be sold

    January 16, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dazzy

      50 oz. and it has to meet one of the other criteria also.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Iamrightyouarewrong

    Obama said no law can "prevent every senseless act," but can be valuable if it can prevent one attack. "If there is even one life that can be saved, we've got an obligation to try it," the president said.
    We currently have many laws in place for gun owners in this country true. We currently have many laws in regards to all sorts of activities in this country true. To say "if one life can be saved" then the assumption could and should be made that anything that can be done to save

    January 16, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iamrightyouarewrong

      just one life, he would act upon. So when does it begin or where does it end? People moan about the NRA and what they TRULY stand for because they are an easy attack for the small minded. A truly open minded person would ask what I ask I would think America. When does it begin or where will it end if it truly is about saving just one life or just an attack on RESPONSIBLE citizens.
      The next buzz word of the day hollywood, games, tobacco, alcohol seriously doubt it couldnt save just one live here. Hipocrits.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. qwertyuio

    The "assault weapons" ban has no shot in hell of passing. Even some Dems are shying away from it. The odds of passing a mag cap aren't very good either. The rest of this stuff is basically feel good legislation. So, at the end of the day, I get to keep my Saiga 12 shotty and my AR 15. Lol, maybe now the gun panic will die down, so I can add an AK 74 to my collection.

    January 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave in Houston

      Yep – just more of the same preposterous political pandering and posturing that's been going on for decades. Much ado about nothing.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ivo

    Obama will stay in the history as a great hero

    January 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Another

      or another corn ball brother

      January 16, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annie

      Hero? He pulled the rug out from under the government in Egypt causing massive upheaval in the Middle East and his intrusion into Libya (which was none of our business) has created a vacuum that is causing Central Africa to become more radical and dangerous. I know, the Egypt guy was a dictator...but women had more rights than now and Copic Christians weren't being persecuted. He constantly supports change that has hurt women world-wide or underminds governments where progress was being made...while saying here that he is for women.
      He talks about equal pay for women but women on his staff make 13% less than the men in equivalent positions.
      He says that if we don't do what he wants with he will still pay foreign aid, debt to countries with pollution and human rights violations and deny equality to women but not pay American veterans, seniors and servicemen and women.
      These actions alone...prove he is no hero....and I haven't even mention how he caters to the elite left and ignores the millions in poverty by not helping them get out of poverty but continuing programs that prevent them from escaping that poverty.

      January 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. EH

    gun grab! they cry but it did not happen. know they dont even want to read what the president wants to do. why? because they do not care.

    January 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. EH

    the tea party.

    January 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hide Behind

    Sorry to say that while I am a firearms owner I have to agree that the vast majority are anti gun and anti 2nd Amendment and should not ever be allowed to own a firarm or be allowed within close proximity to one even if they are police or military.
    Neither should they have any
    RIGHTS other than what ever is written down. By members of the executive branch because they sure as he.. are dumb as rocks as to what type of government they live under.
    The worse part tho is that they have noclue at all of what nature of government they are building let alone the one they destroyed.
    I pity no one from what comes and as such let it be.

    January 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. F1G

    What exactly are the stipulations that are the deciding factor when performing a background check? Are they already defined somewhere?

    January 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. insanity

    "Hamsta: Time to impeach the Nazi."

    I have a better idea, outlaw the NRA

    January 16, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    what is it guys with the constant reference to us Brits having anything to do with your gun problems? I served alongside your navy for 24 years, none of them called me a redcoat or blamed me for a period of our shared history in the 1700's.
    I grew up with guns, owned my first rifle at 9. But if my 12000 of my fellow Brits were dying each year, my priority would not be my rights but my responsibilities. Grow up younger brother.

    January 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annie

      Perhaps if you understood the differences between you, the birthplace of many of our forefathers and us, a new and different breed of people fiercely determined that no one will take our freedom that was fought for first here and later on battlefields all over the world, then you would know why our forefathers assured us the right to retain our guns to protect us from the type of mayhem that created one of the greatest slaughter of people during WWII. Just having our guns is a reminder to our government that we are the source of their power and ability to rule...not them.

      January 16, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
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