President takes executive action on gun measures

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President Obama announced Jan. 16 executive actions and a legislative agenda that he and his administration will pursue in response to gun violence.

The list of 23 executive actions (.pdf) provided by the White House comes from an effort led by Vice President Joe Biden to determine immediate steps the administration could take, including now-signed presidential memoranda making federal agency data available for background checks and tracing firearms in criminal investigations.

"If America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown.  That's what these reforms are designed to do," the president said in a Jan. 16 speech.

His planned actions also include expanding background check data systems, an order for law enforcement to maximize prosecutions of gun crimes, specifying when doctors and mental health service providers can ask patients about gun ownership, and having the Center for Disease Control research causes of gun violence.

The president called for Congress to take action including approving a law that would establish a universal background check for gun purchases, would restore the ban on military-style assault weapons, place a 10-round limit for magazines and make it illegal to possess armor-piercing bullets.

There are currently two proposed pieces of legislation in House committees to restrict child access to guns and eliminate assault weapons, H.R. 65 and H.R. 226.

The president also said Congress should confirm Todd Jones as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, saying the legislature has failed to confirm a director for the past 6 years.

Democrats have already voiced their support, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) saying that he is "committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence" and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said his committee will start reviewing gun proposals in the first full week of February 2012.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said that the committee welcomes the recommendations but cautioned that "good intentions do not necessarily make good laws." Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), said the president "is targeting the second amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence."

A representative for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Boehner will wait until legislation proposals are available to make a full statement.

For more:
- read the president and vice president's remarks
- see the White House plan on the proposals (.pdf)
- download the list of 23 executive actions (.pdf)

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