Tag: Executive Action

President Obama Announces Gun Control Initiatives at White House (VIDEO)

President Obama Unveils Executive Actions to Increase Gun Safety and Reduce Gun Violence (Photo: YouTube)
President Obama Unveils Executive Actions to Increase Gun Safety and Reduce Gun Violence (Photo: YouTube)

This morning at the White House, President Barack Obama announced the series of Executive Actions he plans to enact to increase gun safety, reduce gun violence, and help those subject to or afflicted by gun violence.  Obama deemed his actions necessary given the lack of action from Congress, even in the face of popular support for such measures as expanding background checks for gun purchases.

“Maybe we can’t save everybody, but we can save some,” Obama said in a speech in the East Room of the White House, where he was joined by survivors and families of the victims of gun violence.

Obama wiped away tears as he recalled the children killed in the 2012 Newtown, Conn., shooting rampage. He noted that tragedy didn’t translate into congressional action, even for measures that enjoy lopsided support among the American public. Legislation to expand background checks was blocked in 2013.

“The gun lobby may be able to hold Congress hostage right now, but they cannot hold America hostage,” he said.

A central feature of his actions are steps to expand the definition of who is a gun dealer, as those in the business of selling guns are currently required to perform background checks before making a sale. A big push among groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has been to close loopholes on sales of guns on the Internet and at gun shows. Although the executive action would not fall short of preventing all sales of guns without background checks, Obama said that it would expand the number of people and entities who will fall under existing law. He also unveiled measures to improve the background check system.

He also talked of the need to boost research on gun violence and gun safety, and to boost funding for mental health.

Though many detractors, lobbyists and Republican politicians decried Obama’s initiatives, Obama said that his moves are “not a plot to take away” guns and that background checks are not “some slippery slope to gun confiscation.” He didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, but his reference was to some of his rhetoric.

Instead, Obama compared his actions to efforts to boost safety in cars and even toys.  “We know that there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people,” he said.

Some of his proposals — like a $500 million investment in mental health services and budget items for 200 new ATF agents — still require congressional support.

Obama will participate on Thursday in a town hall on gun violence.  You can watch his impassioned, detailed speech in full below:

article by Ted Johnson via Variety.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Obama to Announce Executive Action to “Ban The Box” as Part of Criminal Justice Reforms

President Barack Obama (CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday will announce a series of measures designed to reduce obstacles facing former prisoners reintegrating into society, including an executive action directing federal employers to delay asking questions about a job applicant’s criminal history until later in the application process.

Many states, cities and private employers have already taken steps to “ban the box,” which refers to the checkbox on employment applications asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. However, some federal employers and contractors still ask the question. Obama’s executive action will apply to federal employers, but not to contractors.

Civil rights activists have urged Obama to propose the measure, noting that such questions can limit the ability for people with a criminal record to gain employment and get their lives back on track after prison. Advocates argue that those formerly in prison should be allowed to prove their qualifications for a job instead of being eliminated early in the process due to their criminal background.

The issue has come up on the campaign trail, with all three Democratic presidential candidates pledging support for a “ban the box” policy.

Obama will also announce other initiatives designed to improve rehabilitation and re-entry for former inmates, including education and housing grants, as well as partnerships between local municipalities and private companies that would provide jobs and training in technology.

He will also propose more funding for legal aid programs and policies to reduce the legal hurdles for former prisoners applying for public housing, a process which also uses an applicant’s criminal history as a factor in determining eligibility.

Obama will unveil these policy proposals at an event in Newark, New Jersey, that will draw attention to success stories of former prisoners. While in Newark, Obama will appear with the city’s mayor, Ras Baraka (D), as well as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who has introduced criminal justice reform legislation in the Senate. Obama will also visit a residential facility for individuals recovering from substance abuse and participate in a roundtable on criminal justice reform at the Newark campus of Rutgers University.

The announcement continues Obama’s recent efforts toward reforming the criminal justice system. As he approaches the end of his presidency, he has pledged to do more to address problems like mass incarceration, mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders and police brutality. This summer, he became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

This story has been updated to clarify that the executive action will apply to federal employers, but not to contractors.

article by Marina Fang via huffingtonpost.com

Obama Taking Executive Action on Gun Background Check System

President Obama

President Barack Obama, next to Vice President Joe Biden, gestures as he speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, about the defeat in the Senate of a bill to expand background checks on guns. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Federal law bans certain mentally ill people from purchasing firearms, but not all states are providing data to stop the prohibited sales to the FBI’s background check system. A federal review last year found 17 states contributed fewer than 10 mental health records to the database, meaning many deemed by a judge to be a danger still could have access to guns.

The Obama administration was starting a process Friday aimed at removing barriers in health privacy laws that prevent some states from reporting information to the background check system. The action comes two days after the Senate rejected a measure that would have required buyers of firearms online and at gun shows to pass a background check. That’s already required for shoppers at licensed gun dealers.

Stung by the defeat, Obama vowed to keep up the fight for the background check expansion but also to do what he could through executive action.

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