Now Is the Time to Act on Gun Violence

4798As a society, our first task must be to care for our children -- to shield them from harm and give them the tools they need not only to pursue their dreams, but to help build this country. That is how we will be judged. And in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, it's clear we have a long way to go.
That's why, last month, I asked Vice President Biden to lead an effort to come up with concrete steps we can take right now to keep our kids safe, help prevent mass shootings, and reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country. And on Wednesday, I put forward a specific set of proposals based on Joe's recommendations. Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence -- if even one life can be saved -- we have an obligation to try.

As President, I'm committed to doing my part. That's why I signed 23 executive actions giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.
These actions ranged from strengthening our background check system, to helping schools hire more resource officers and counselors if they want them, to directing the Centers for Disease Control to study the best ways to reduce gun violence.

But as important as these steps are, making a real and lasting difference also requires Congress to act, and act soon.

First: it's time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. Right now, as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. That's not safe, it's not smart, and it's not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers. An overwhelming majority of Americans agree with me on the need for universal background checks. There's no reason we can't get it done.

Second: Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines. Many assault rifles, when paired with high-capacity magazines, have one purpose: to pump out as many bullets as possible, as quickly as possible. Weapons designed for theaters of war have no place in movie theaters. And a majority of Americans agree.

Finally, Congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as it does its job. They should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. And at a time when budget cuts are forcing many communities to reduce their police force, we should put more cops back on the job and back on our streets.

Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in this country who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting, or sport; protection, or collection.

Source: | President Barack Obama
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