Three days after outlining his administration’s ambitious new gun control initiative, President Obama on Saturday asked supporters to keep the heat on members of Congress.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president called the White House gun-control proposals “common-sense” reforms and urged voters to ask their representatives to act quickly to approve a ban on so-called assault-style weapons.
“None of this will be easy,” he said. “Already, we’re seeing pundits, politicians and special-interest lobbyists calling any attempt at common-sense reform an all-out assault on liberty — not because that’s true, but because that’s how they get higher ratings and make more money.”
The president’s remarks are the latest volley from a White House determined to recycle its Campaign 2012 infrastructure — including volunteers, organizers, email lists and social-media expertise — to win the public opinion battle with pro-gun forces like the National Rifle Association.
Mr. Obama, who vowed “meaningful action” on guns after last month’s school massacre in Newtown, Conn., said Saturday he will need public support.
“If, like me, you want this time to be different, then I need your help to make it different. Ask your member of Congress if they support universal background checks and renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And if the answer is no, ask them why not. Ask them why an A-grade from the gun lobby is more important than keeping kids safe in a first-grade classroom.”
The president’s proposals have already run into stiff opposition, especially from the NRA and from lawmakers in states. like Texas and Mississippi, where some officials have threatened to impede the enforcement of new federal gun laws.
The president on Wednesday announced he will immediately implement 23 executive orders — everything from beefing up background checks to authorizing more federal money for studies on violence — but he needs congressional approval for the major pieces of his plan: universal gun-purchase background checks and the “assault-weapons” ban.
“First, it’s time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun,” he said Saturday. “The law already requires licensed gun dealers to perform these checks, but as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without one. That’s not safe, it’s not smart, and it’s not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers.
“Second, Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines,” Mr. Obama said. Many assault rifles, when combined with high-capacity magazines, have one purpose and one purpose only: to fire as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible. These weapons have no place in our communities. And a majority of the American people agree with me.”
The president pushed back at pro-gun critics who have called the latest proposals a gigantic gun grab by the federal government.
“Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. We have a strong tradition of gun ownership in this country, and the vast majority of gun owners act responsibly,” he said. “But I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from causing harm on a massive scale. That’s what these reforms are designed to do.”
Click here to see the president’s complete address.
• David Eldridge can be reached at email@example.com.
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