Obama’s actions, which didn’t take the approval of Congress, are a legitimate course to decrease gun violence, Caleb Correll, chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party, said.
“None of the executive actions he’s signed are going too far at all,” Correll said Wednesday. “[The actions] are pretty reasonable steps for what they can do within their means without changing any laws. They are minor executive actions that can help.”
The actions, which largely increase the enforcement of current gun laws and require federal agencies to provide data for background checks, come in direct response to a December school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children in Newtown, Conn. Obama also tasked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with researching gun violence.
After signing the actions, Obama unveiled a $500 million anti-gun violence package that would bolster school security, spur universal background checks and ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines similar to those used in the Newtown shooting. The plan also would place up to 1,000 more police officers in schools and buttress mental health care by training more professionals to deal with those who may be at risk.
But to make significant change to the nation’s gun laws, Obama said, Congress must be on board.
“To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act,” Obama said. “And Congress must act soon.”
The National Rifle Association responded to Obama’s actions, stating that such efforts will do little to deter gun violence. The plan, the NRA said in a release, focuses on the wrong parties and leaves children at greater risk.
The NRA, which a few weeks after the Newtown shooting suggested placing police officers in every school in the United States, accused Obama Tuesday of being a “hypocrite” for allowing armed Secret Service members to guard his daughters, while resisting NRA calls for armed guards at schools.
“Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes,” a narrator says in a 30-second commercial, according to media reports. “But he is just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security. Protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours.”
While he wasn’t available for comment Wednesday, state Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, recently said that the issue of gun control has been weighing on the minds of those he serves.
“I just got off the phone with a constituent who’s worried about gun control,” Jones, a fervent support of the Second Amendment, said Monday at the Kansas State Capitol Building. “Obviously, [gun control] is a huge national issue, and they were wanting us to look at some gun control issues and that kind of thing.” While she agrees with limiting the accessibility of guns to certain people, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., said she’s not in full agreement with Obama’s plan.
“I share the president’s goal of preventing criminals and individuals with mental illness from acquiring firearms,” Jenkins said. “So, ideas that deal with improving criminal databases, instant background check systems and mental health resources are areas I am interested in reviewing. Unfortunately, his legislative proposals to ban firearms and prohibit private sales will result in little more than reducing the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans, and are ideas I cannot support.”
A recent poll, however, indicates that Americans in general are now more favorable of stricter gun control laws.
In a PEW Research Center poll, the group asked: “Is gun control or protecting Second Amendment rights more important?” Fifty-one percent of those polled said it’s more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights. In the same poll, 85 percent of people favored background checks for private and gun show sales, and 80 percent favored restricting the sale of firearms to those with mental illness.