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. Lila

    yay!!!! I like guns but we needed to make sweeping changes.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. merlin

    I just read 23 pointless pieces of paper that wasted a lot of time and effort. Most of this stuff is already on the books. It's not our fault federal workers aren't doing their job

    January 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • TommytheT

      it is what our govt does best, waste time and money looking like they are doing something and really doing nothing. Joe B's time would not have been better spent looking at the real crisis, the deficit and debt and not this emotional distraction?

      January 16, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chuckt

    What an idiot, nice going your King ship. You idiot liberals just remember what precedence this president has just set and I'm not talking about gun control. Any President from this point forward can give an executive order. hopefully we will have a true Christian president that will allow the bible and prayer back into our schools. Guess what, these few orders would not have stopped either mass murders. They would have had more than 2 clips and a few more guns. We put God back into our schools and this will change.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Bush signed 290 executive orders.

      Did you even read the ones Obama issued? If you have a problem with any of them, you seriously need to re-evaluate your priorities. They won't change a thing for the overwhelming majority of gun owners.

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

      God is the VERY reason why things like these are happening. This is about politics, not religion. Please don't confuse the two.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • phalanx

      Put God back in to schools? really? You think it was God that made previous generations the way they were? How about discipline, a time when parents and teachers weren't afraid of the kids... THAT is what changed... Oppressing children into forcibly believing in a bunch of BS is the first step to outbursts and rebellions.

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

      And having god in churches has helped prevent children from being abused by priests. Get a clue.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      I found this from Fox News of all places. He is setting no precendence

      In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed an executive order in conjunction with his signing of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which regulated the type and amount of guns to be legally imported into the United States.

      President George H.W. Bush used his executive authority under the 1968 law to permanently ban the import of 43 specific firearms including modified versions of the AK-47 and the Uzi.

      In 1998, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order banning over 50 types of assault weapons

      January 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      Religion has no place in our schools or politics. We are nation of many faiths and should not put one above the others.

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

      From this point forward? Executive orders have been in use since 1785. All presidents have issued executive orders. George W. Bush issued 291.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff

    Hmm, so the vast majority of his EO's just forced the gov't to do its job in complying with laws already in place.

    Why, exactly, is this big news, or just happening now?

    January 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • TommytheT

      because all a game to them to try and look like they are doing something and hope the masses buy into it, and not realize how incompetent they really are at getting anything meaningful done, that moves the country forward. This great country moves forward despite all the boulders and massive regulations they put up.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. its about time

    attention gun nuts. assault weapons are not a good soapbox for your freedom speeches. why not leaglaize bazookas while you are at it? pick another topic to waste your life worrying about. you will most likely benefit from the medicare incentive for mental health patients anyway.

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

      Actions should be what are illegal, not the possession you own.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dead-Eye

      Legalize Bazookas? Brilliant! If they did, i'd be the first in line to get one lol

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

      You haven't seen the size of the rats around my housing complex. A bazooka would be perfect to eliminate the health threat.

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

      and now we go back to pre 2004 restrictions. did we survive prior to when MSRs were available for sale? yup. will we survive going forward? yup. get over it. those guns are fun to shoot at the range but not necessary for hunting. Just buy something else (instead of the "cool" guns).....grow up.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. whatsupeh

    As Americans you should be proud of a president who has the guts to take on these issues. Stop living in fear, you don't need guns and especially not assault weapons.

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


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

      Hmmm... why don't we just make murder illegal? that'll stop people from killing each other. yeah. that's it.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • tk

      Since we don't need guns, go ahead and put a sign in your front yard letting everyone know that. I'm sure the real criminals will be glad to know how "safe" you are.

      January 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JayLb

    Couldn't be more proud of our President. Having the courage to take action when the NRA will not. I grew up with guns. A lot of my family members own guns.. and even with this new legislation, they'll continue to own and use their guns as they always have. The 2nd amendment is still intact while enacting reasonable and responsible measures to help keep the public safe.

    Thank you Mr. President

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

      agree in chorus: Thank you, Mr. President.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Larry Simpson

    in other words "it's time to go gun shopping"

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

      haha yeah go spend your money. You would be better off if you spent some of it on an education. 🙂

      January 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RRR

    I think it is funny that he mentioned Virginia Tech. This was done with a hand gun that happens to have a 10 round max capacity clip.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jay

    Gwen, Linda...ask the Redcoats why?

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

      Oh really? And who would the new redcoats be the american government? So you want the ability to have assault rifles just in case you decide to revolt. Tell me again how any assault rifles you are capable of purchasing are any threat to the mass and force of the american military.

      January 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Are you seriously concerned that we Brits have some sort of plan to row across the Atlantic and plant a Flag.
      What has a red uniform issued in 1770 got to do with murdered kids? Get real!

      January 16, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. lauren

    i agree with ed. americans have gone soft and its really sad.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. foresee

    BUDGET CUTS won't allow Obama to enforce parking tickets.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bob

    why didnt he just go all the way and make his speech at a cemetery?

    January 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    I beleive Reagan had a ban on the same type of weapons.

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

      Jim – yes, and the Assault rifle ban was in effect when Clinton was Pres and that's when the Columbine shootings happened......yep, it really worked, didn't it?

      January 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      nope. that was clinton.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • TNP

      Prseidents Reagan, Carter and Ford signed a letter to the House of Representatives URGING them to pass the ban.

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

      Read the Feinstein bill and compare it to its "ancestors." It is a draconian beast of a completely different nature.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sammy zoso

    Amazing that the gun nuts prefer a country rampant with guns when it costs the U.S. health care system about $100 billion a year to provide care for gun nut shooting victims in emergency departments. I'd rather my tax dollars be spent on other things. Thus gun love business is a public health issue, a disease that needs to be controlled. The NRA does not run the country. Or not any more they don't.

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

      Yeah, I would like my taxes to go somewhere my fruitful as well but dont count on it with the incompetents we keep electing.

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

      Hey Sammy,
      Do you have a sign in your yard saying "No guns in this house!"

      January 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      $100 billion? Where did that unsupported fact come from? A lot more is spent on automobile accidents, but I don't see anyone rushing to ban cars.

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

      Why not install speed limiters on all cars so they can't go faster than the speed limit? That would reduce the number of fatalities in the US. We can put an end to all those speed freaks

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

      Face it........the 2% does.......no matter waht your saviors tell you : -)

      January 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
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