President Obama on Wednesday unveiled what is being called the most ambitious gun control agenda in decades, initiating 23 separate executive actions aimed at curbing what he called “the epidemic of gun violence in this country,” according to The Washington Post.
According to the White House fact sheet, Obama’s plan includes:
- reinstating and strengthening the assault weapons ban,
- restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines,
- getting rid of armor-piercing bullets,
- ending a freeze on research into gun violence,
- providing additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime
- calling on Congress to pass a $4 billion proposal to help communities keep 15,000 police officers on the streets, as well as new gun trafficking legislation that would “impose serious penalties on those who help get guns into the hands of criminals".
- Making schools safer by giving communities the opportunity to hire up to 1,000 school resource officers and school counselors.
Connecticut political reaction came quickly.
Connecticut Sen. Ed Meyer, a Democrat who represents the 12th District, which includes Branford, North Branford, Guilford, Durham, Killingworth and Madison, said Wednesday that he's not sure the president's proposals will be effective.
"It’s moving the country in the right direction, but it won’t be very effective because it is continuing the legal use of gun magazines," said Meyer. "And our experience, we’ve been looking at weapons and gun magazines, our experience is that you can change magazines in one- to one-and-a-half seconds. Continuing to allow gun magazines is allowing the bad guys to continue awful assaults."
He also said he does not think any effective national legislation will be enacted anytime soon.
"From my vantage point, I also don’t see any chance of the president’s program passing House of Representatives, because of Republican majority. This has become a totally partisan issue," said Meyer. He also is assistant president pro tempore of the state Senate.
In addition to the national initiatives, Meyer has been working with other legislators to come up with some gun control measures for Connecticut. Meyer's proposal prohibits the sale or use of any gun magazines, but it does provide for some specific exemptions for their use at gun ranges under certain conditions.
Rich Burgess, the president of gun-advocacy group Connecticut Carry, also weighed in.
"It sounds like President Obama has finally taken the first step in instructing his Federal employees to do their jobs as they should have been doing all along," Burgess said in a statement to Patch. "That we had to wait for the Sandy Hook massacre for President Obama to feel compelled to instruct his employees to do their jobs is shameful."
After a recent forum on gun control held in Guilford, Burgess lodged a complaint against Sen. Meyer and a retired Guilford police officer, alleging that the use of a BB gun during the presentation violated state statute 53-206. The Guilford Police Department said Monday the case has been closed, and after the investigation, no criminal violation was found.
"We are glad President Obama came around to accepting the NRA's recommendations of increasing armed security in schools (#18 & #12) and to increase firearms education nationwide (#7)," Burgess continued. "We hope he works with the leader in both areas, the NRA, to implement these programs. We will be happy to assist here in Connecticut as needed through the work we have already been engaging in with regards to education and training."
Other officials also weighed in:
Governor Dannel P. Malloy released the following statement:
“In the hours after the worst of our fears were confirmed, in the midst of the grief and sorrow over the loss of 20 innocent children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was one question on the minds of people across Connecticut and around the nation: How do we make sure this never happens again?
“Today the President took the critical first step toward answering that question. The common sense measures he proposed today are something that we should all be able to agree on, and I want to commend him and the Vice President for their work on this issue.
“I have no doubt that, state by state, we will deal with the issue of gun violence. Over the coming months, I will do everything in my power to make sure that Connecticut is a national leader in preventing gun violence. We will take steps to make sure that our gun laws are as tight as they are reasonable, that our mental health system is accessible to those that need it, and that our law enforcement personnel have all the tools they need to protect public safety, particularly in our schools.
“But we can’t go it alone. We need leadership at the federal level, and for the first time in a long time, we have it.
“We will not be able to stop gun violence completely, but we can make our country and our children safer. We owe it to them, and to all those lost in Sandy Hook, Aurora and every other city that has lost someone to gun violence, to try.”
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) released the following statement:
These are strong recommendations, and Congress should act on them now—before another mass tragedy occurs. If assault weapons and high capacity magazines were not so readily available, I am convinced there would be more little boys and girls alive in Newtown today. If background checks were universal, our city streets would be safer. There are no longer any excuses for inaction. If the horror of Sandy Hook doesn't move Congress to act on common sense gun laws, I have no idea what will. I’m so appreciative of the leadership of President Obama and Vice President Biden on this issue, especially their willingness to involve the Sandy Hook parents and families in this effort. Now, it’s time to get to work.
Updated with NRA's statement at 2:50 p.m. on Jan. 16
The National Rifle Association of America released this statement:
Fairfax, Va. – Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.
The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset – our children.
Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.