Obama urges Congress on gun measures in speech
President Barack Obama on Monday increased pressure on Congress to address gun violence by passing legislation that would make background checks universal, renew the assault weapons ban and prohibit the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
“Weapons of war have no place on our streets, in our schools, or threatening our law enforcement officers,” Obama said.
In a speech at the Minneapolis, Minn. Police Department Special Operations Center, Obama said that even though he has taken steps through administrative action to address gun violence, he demanded Congress do “its part soon, and not to wait.”
Obama highlighted a Senate bill that would require criminal background checks for anyone wanting to purchase a gun as well as legislation that would crack down on people buying guns and re-selling to criminals.
After the Newtown, Conn. shooting that left 20 children dead, Washington has turned its attention to curbing gun violence and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) recently reintroduced her assault weapons ban that was phased out in 2004.
The Senate Judiciary Committee last week held the first round of hearings on gun violence. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly testified at the hearing. Giffords was shot in 2011 and has since become an an advocate for stricter gun laws.
“This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities,” Giffords said. “For Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem.”
Obama cited the attempt on Giffords’ life as a reason to ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. “If we still had a 10-round limit on magazines, for example, the gunman who shot Gabby may never have been able to inflict 33 gunshot wounds in 15 seconds,” he said.
Obama said the government needs to look into the root causes of gun violence, including better access to mental health treatment for young adults, increased police presence on the streets and urged Congress to confirm Todd Jones, a U.S. Attorney from Minnesota, as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Critics say the president’s plan would infringe on the 2nd Amendment, but Obama defends his call to action as common sense.
“There’s no legislation to eliminate all guns,” Obama said. “There’s no legislation being proposed to subvert the 2nd amendment. Tell them [members of Congress] specifically what we’re talking about. Things that the majority of Americans, when they’re asked, support.”