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.

Details emerge on gun control proposal

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. Trevor

    Wow, background checks on all GUN purchase? The HORROR

    January 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Al Orlando

    There were 77,000 bakground checks last year where the people failed. This is a federal law. There were 0 prosecutions. Zer0!!

    January 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Adam

    And not one of these would have prevented the school shooting.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rick

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

    Wait, so Obamacare can allow doctors to ask patients if they have a gun? Big brother is watching your yearly checkup...

    January 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rplat

      Exactly, liberalism is like a green slime and will work its way into every unprotected crack or opening in your life. Big brother to the max.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve c

      My response to that question? It's none of your business, Doc.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rplat

    All of this is nothing more than eye candy for his liberal/leftist base. Any proposed gun bans will never make it into law.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kvjavs

    None of these would have prevented Sandy Hook.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Paul

    We have dictator not a president. Unreal.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ron

    I think what most people are missing is not that he is banning assault weapons or putting these new laws into effect, but how he's doing it. I have a hard time believing that the people who want the gun bans are OKAY bypassing congress and having a president sign things into law because he has the power.
    If you think banning a particular type of weapon is going to stop the criminal element from using those guns, you are sadly mistaken. The guns are out there.
    As far as, "why would anyone want to own one of those guns?" Well, last time I checked, if I can LEGALLY purchase a type of firearm I want to own, then I should be able to purchase it. This is the freedom I have in the US. If you want to purchase a car that goes 200+ miles per hour, you should have the right to do so. There is no need to buy a car that goes that fast, but we have the freedom to do so.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. foresee

    Poor ignorant people. Now I do know how the hell Hilter got into power.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. crabapples23

    I hope before the kids left they got the "sorry for spending you into debt before you know what debt is" handshake and smile.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ericfreerock

    Obama: "I'm singing on the grave, I'm singing on the grave, what a glorious feeling, I've opportunity again."

    January 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Name*dave

    He can't change anything without congress.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Simpson

      lol some people don't realize he didn't pass anything at all ! too funny

      January 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • chuckt

      hey let him,

      None of these are worth the paper they are written on. He wants to take down the 2nd amendment, then lets take down the 1st. Get a Christian president and force our schools to teach the bible and have prayer in our schools.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      He just did. 🙂

      January 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ed

    Here's what people fail to understand...it's the bill of RIGHTS not the Bill of NEEDS....we have a right to these weapons

    January 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • MT

      We also have the right to assemble peacefully, the right to life, and liberty and the right to pursuit of happiness. These rights were not met for the kids in Newtown, those in Aurora or those in Tuson.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • malex2208

      Calm down – no one is taking away your guns. Just working to make gun ownership a safer right

      January 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canuck1

      Hey Ed, No you do not have a right to own an assault rifle that shoots multiple rounds a second. Explain to me why you think you do.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Orlando

      MT, I have to agree. If a teacher was allowed to have a gun at Sandy Hook they should be limmited to a 10 round magazine. when the ten shoots are fired, the kids should be required to get in line to be shot. In 1986 9 FBI agents took on 2 perps that did not have "assualt weapons". one perp needed 6 rounds in him to go down. The other required 12. You have no idea what you are talking about. Liberals never have facts. 10,000 kids died because of CAFE standards.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • TommytheT

      Hey Jay, how does what he says make him a Bigot?

      January 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • mcklapp

      Which guns do you need? The smooth-bore muzzle-loaders the founders had in mind whebn they approved the Second Amendment?
      This provision are pretty moderate. I don't think an assault weapons ban will make mush difference and while I generally useless legislation, there is NOTHING here that represents a significant loss of Freedom.

      Stop crying "Wolf", crybabies. Act like a man.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • TommytheT

      Hey Chuck1, why not? We have the right to bear arms to defend our life, family, property and community, you know that thing Mr Obama attempted to use as a spring board for taking away our rights....so Chuck1 please help us all understand just how many bullets we are allowed to protect our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness? Is the magic number 4, 7, 10, 20?

      January 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      If I recall, the weapon at the time was a musket......so you have a right to a musket.

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


      In case you failed to notice, this isn't about assault rifles that, by definition, are full-auto weapons. It's about semi-auto rifles that look scary. 1 pull of the trigger = 1 shot fired. Not 1 pull of the trigger = 30 shots fired in a few seconds.

      If you want to argue, "just pull the trigger over and over really fast", then what makes this rifle any different than any other modern day gun, which the majority of are semi-auto as well? VT/Columbine/AZ all used semi-auto handguns that can put out many rounds of ammo in a "couple seconds". A bag full of 6-shot revolvers can put out many rounds of ammo in a "couple seconds", what's the difference?

      At the end of the day, rifles only account for 323 murders in the US in 2011. Of that, these misunderstood/misrepresented semi-auto rifles account for only a portion of that number. Handguns account for 6,220 people murdered. Knifes account for ~1700 and blunt instruments (hammers) account for ~1700, shotguns account for 356 murders, hands/feet account for 728 murders.

      If this truly was about saving lives, we'd focus on detecting and treating mentally ill people to prevent mass killings than attempting to ban something that accounts for the smallest fraction of the bigger issue.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alex

    There really isn't much meat in these executive orders–just improved communication and coordination maybe. I have a hard time believing the red states will bother.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Behind The Curtain

    Everyone seems to ignore the fact all of this is happening during the middle of a financial crisis. Do you realize that over 40% of every dollar the federal government collects just goes towards paying the interest on all the money we've borrowed? And since we keep borrowing more and more money, this percentage will just continue to increase year after year. This means that every year, there will be less money for things like police and fireman, schools, roads, all that good stuff. If we had no debt – I know it's a pipe dream – we could be cutting everyone's taxes in half while at the same time doubling the amount of first responders along with increasing security at every school across the country. The deficit we are facing is more dangerous than any lone nut job with a gun will ever be. We are digging a hole that we will never be able to climb out of!

    January 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • JAKE

      not true – try checking with the omb office – no where near 40%...........

      January 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • TommytheT

      yep, blame, deflect and distract and no one will see how poor my record has been.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • greg

      Just another Obama ploy to try and save lives so that there are more of us to pay his taxes just like he's trying to help people with his dang 'obamacare"... To hell with that... lets kill us all!!!! quick my AR15 ... I hear voices again....

      Please keep your eye on the ball here!

      January 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
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