Hillary Clinton, Anti-gun violence organizations and elected Democratic leaders have praised President Obama’s new executive orders to control gun related killings while the Republican National Committee not surprisingly has come out against the president’s actions.
President Obama has announced a series of measures that include tougher background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands, more efficient updating and sharing of data banks containing information of people who shouldn’t have weapons and making the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) more effective, increased mental health testing and reporting to the background check system, increased research of gun-safety technology, more involvement by and coordination between state attorneys general, ensuring that people involved in dealing firearms are licensed and conduct background checks on buyers — including private individuals who sell guns online and at gun shows– background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons, and other measures.
Front-running Democratic presidential candidate Clinton tweeted: “Thank you, @POTUS, for taking a crucial step forward on gun violence. Our next president has to build on that progress—not rip it away.”
“President Obama’s executive action to expand background checks, increase oversight, and close glaring loopholes in federal law marks a critically needed step forward for our nation. I applaud the President’s decision to take a stand and act, even as Congress continues to delay,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said. “For too long, the American people have been without sensible gun control at the federal level. Thousands of lives have been cut short and countless families have been forced to bury their loved ones too soon – all due to gun violence. The fact that Congress refuses to act and pass a national law that protects the American people while also respecting their second amendment rights defies common sense.”
Cuomo added: “New York has led the way on gun control – enacting the toughest laws in the nation after Sandy Hook where 20 children and six adults were tragically murdered. But there is still more we must do together as a nation. For all the progress we have made in New York State on this issue, the lack of federal gun control continues to leave our communities in the line of fire. Congress must pass a strong national gun control bill and follow the President’s lead in putting the safety of America’s families first.”
“The only way we are going to make our country safer from this epidemic of gun violence is with action: we need to fix our background check system and we need to pass a federal law that actually defines gun trafficking as a crime,” U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said, reacting to the new measures. “I’m pleased that the President and his administration are taking steps to address this crisis. We have an obligation to do everything possible to keep Americans safe, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to take steps to end the scourge of gun violence in the new year.”
Meanwhile, Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), says, “The repeated obstruction in Congress of commonsense measures that seem reasonable to almost all Americans has led to the President’s strong and necessary action on gun safety. The vast majority of Americans will welcome Presidential action to break the unnatural vice grip that the NRA has over safety in America.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network (NAN) in a statement says, “Our community is disproportionately ravaged by gun violence and the President’s executive action today is an important step towards taking these deadly weapons off our streets. From tragic mass killings in Charleston, Sandy Hook and San Bernardino to the everyday carnage in inner cities, we clearly cannot allow this violent trend to continue. Republicans who are beholden to the gun lobby must not be allowed to block the commonsense laws we need to protect Americans. It is now time for Congress to wake up and pass legislation to expand background checks, keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill and ban the sale of the most powerful weapons.”
U.S. Repr. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in a statement says, “With this historic action, President Obama has taken a significant step toward making America a safer place.
Over the past decade, more than 100,000 Americans have been killed as a result of gun violence. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place. The overwhelming majority of Americans agree that every single person who purchases a gun should undergo a thorough background check. House Republicans have done nothing to advance gun safety legislation and continue to function as wholly-owned subsidiaries of the gun lobby. Enough is enough. It’s time for Congress to act.”
New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio said, “President Obama’s plan to stop gun violence is smart, sober and bold. Let this day be a turning point in the effort to end senseless acts of violence against innocent Americans. For far too long, our country has stood by or turned a blind eye to gun violence. Today, President Obama was loud and clear: we cannot wait another day. New York City stands with the President and those working tirelessly across the country to create real, lasting gun control reform – because we must end our country’s awful pattern of gun violence once and for all.”
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, added, “Three years ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, I worked with gun show operators across New York to devise a groundbreaking model for background checks at gun shows. As a result, our state’s gun laws are the strongest in the nation, and yet we have remained the dumping ground for the ‘iron pipeline,’ which funnels guns from states with weaker gun laws to crime scenes in Binghamton, Buffalo, and the Bronx. I am pleased that President Obama has taken action today to narrow dangerous loopholes in the federal background check system that is used every day for gun sales in all fifty states. There is a growing consensus, among gun owners and non-gun-owners alike, that we can strengthen our background check system without infringing on the rights of law-abiding Americans. Three years ago, New York showed the way, and now the rest of the country is following it.”
Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. who is the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney, and Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles City Attorney are co-chairs of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, and issued a joint-statement:
“Today we were honored to join law enforcement partners, advocates, faith leaders, victims of gun violence, and their families, in the East Room of the White House as President Obama signed into law a series of executive actions which will help reclaim communities coast to coast from the bloodshed wrought by illegal guns.
“As prosecutors we know all too well that violent gun offenders routinely skirt background checks by obtaining weapons through ‘private sales’ at gun shows and online marketplaces. By contrast, traditional gun retailers have prevented more than two million prohibited persons from obtaining firearms through mandatory background checks of potential buyers. Requiring more gun sellers to obtain licenses and perform these checks is a common-sense measure that will save countless American lives.
“As co-chairs of our nonpartisan coalition, we applaud President Obama’s commitment to stemming the tide of gun violence, and recommit the expertise of our member prosecutors to advance federal progress on this crucial public health and safety issue.”
On the other hand, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, Reince Priebus accused the president of ignoring the constitution.
“Ever since the American people voted to place a check on President Obama’s agenda, he has routinely overstepped his constitutional authority to force his policies on the American people and this gun control push is no different. The Supreme Court reaffirmed gun ownership is a constitutionally protected right, but that clearly hasn’t stopped President Obama and the Democrats’ obsession with restricting the Second Amendment,” Priebus said, in a statement. “The recent tragedies that have gripped our country are heartbreaking, but none of the unilateral restrictions President Obama is proposing would have prevented them, making his proposal all the more insulting and political. The truth is, this executive overreach is all about burnishing the president’s legacy and boosting Democrat enthusiasm in a presidential election year. But that’s no excuse for subverting the will of the people’s representatives in Congress, and the American people won’t tolerate President Obama’s dangerous power grab.”
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence congratulated and praised the president for his action.
“The Executive Orders announced by President Obama today are a positive step toward making our communities safer,” Josh Horwitz, executive director of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, who attended the White House signing ceremony said. “While this Congress continues to sit on its hands and do nothing to prevent the next gun-related tragedy, this President showed real leadership and took decisive action to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. All those who are sick and tired of seeing American families destroyed by gun violence owe the Administration a debt of gratitude.”
Leah Gunn Barrett, the Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence also issued a statement that in part reads, “Polling shows that 90% of all Americans, including the majority of gun owners, want background checks on all gun sales. It is unconscionable that the Republican Congress has failed to act on this one important measure. We applaud the President for putting the health and safety of Americans above the will of narrow special interest groups. The people have spoken and the President has done what he can to deliver. New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, together with state gun violence prevention groups across the country, is committed to ensure such executive actions are implemented and is proud of our President for taking these actions.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued a statement that in part reads, “The AFT strongly supports President Obama’s effort to take action against our national epidemic of gun violence—in 2015 alone, there were more than 52,000 incidents of gun violence in the United States. “Our members—who are entrusted with the safety and care of our communities and our children—see the impact of this violence every day. As teachers, school support staff, nurses, social workers and other public workers in places such as Newtown, Conn., we are committed to take the steps necessary to ensure a future where we are all safe in our schools, workplaces and communities.
“President Obama’s actions today go beyond patchwork, stopgap measures and provide real solutions—by narrowing loopholes in federal law that allow guns to be sold without a background check, overhauling the background check system and increasing funding for mental health, gun safety technology and enforcement.”
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) released a statement that in part says, “I applaud the President for taking these initial steps. Several of these provisions closely parallel ideas in my bill, the ‘Reducing Gun Violence in our Neighborhoods Act.’ For example, under the President’s order, the federal government will better harness technology to improve gun safety.
“The President’s plan requires gun dealers to report lost or stolen firearms. This is an important step, but we should also require individuals who own firearms to report when weapons go missing, as my bill would mandate. Across the U.S., almost 600,000 guns are stolen each year from private homes. New York streets are often a destination for guns stolen in other states and, too often, we see the tragic results. My bill would also establish a national database for missing firearms, assisting law enforcement in determining the origin of weapons used in violent crimes.
Velázquez’s bill, H.R. 3830, was introduced in November. It was endorsed by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the three District Attorneys representing New York’s 7th Congressional district.