President Obama took to his bully pulpit to push his executive orders on gun control Tuesday that held up China’s restrictive gun laws as a model to emulate.
In the process, he even shed tears.
CBS, NBC and ABC all broke into their regularly scheduled TV programs to cover the speech in which Obama used the term “common sense” repeatedly to describe his new gun-regulating initiative that takes great pains to work “around” Congress, which he described as out of touch with American citizens on the issue of guns.
The president at one point cried while talking about the many victims of “gun violence.”
Even staid, old-line media giants like the Washington Post were outwardly impressed by the speech. The newspaper posted a story under the headline “President Obama’s amazingly emotional speech on gun control, annotated.”
Obama outlined his plans to provide background checks on nearly all gun sales by requiring gun sellers, no matter how small, to obtain a federal firearms license through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
“Some of you may remember the knife attack in China a few years ago,” Obama said. Several people were severely injured “but most of them survived because he didn’t have access to a very powerful weapon,” Obama said.
Watch clip from President Obama’s speech below in which he got emotional:
Ignoring the recent mass slaughters in Paris, at the Charlie Hebdo offices one year ago and more recently at a music hall, bars and soccer stadium, Obama said no other “advanced country” has as much gun violence as America and it was time to lay aside the polarizing political issues that divide rather than provide “solutions.”
Many of those in the audience were victims or family members of victims of shootings, such as former Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and parents of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
While recalling those 20 children, the president wiped a tear from his left eye. He was introduced on the stage by a father of one of the boys killed, 7-year-old Daniel Barden. Daniel’s dad, Mark Barden, said “every gun death is preventable” if enough people become engaged in the fight for tougher gun control.
“We need your help,” Barden said. “We need everyone engaged in this.”
Obama said his restrictions on gun purchases had the support of “the majority of gun owners” in America and all boiled down to “common sense,” despite the fact that his new restrictions would not have stopped a single one of the recent mass shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Aurora, Colorado, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, or San Bernardino.
The common-sense meme has been repeatedly used by the Obama administration over the last few years in cooperation with some of the biggest anti-gun lobbies in the nation, most of them funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Obama took a direct stab at the National Rifle Association and similar groups that lobby for Second Amendment rights.
He said Americans needed to join together to “stand up to the gun lobby’s lies” and demand that governors, mayors and especially Congress follow up his executive orders by doing “even more” to end gun violence. He also urged Americans to elect more anti-gun politicians to Congress in this year’s elections.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., released the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement of his executive order to restrict American gun ownership:
“From day one, the president has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that our nation has valued since its founding. He knows full well that the law already says that people who make their living selling firearms must be licensed, regardless of venue. Still, rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, he goes after the most law-abiding of citizens. His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty.”
Obama acknowledged that one of the most-used and successful arguments against his plan to offer universal background checks along with a host of other new rules and regulations, would be that none of the recent mass shootings would likely have been stopped if such measures had been in place.
Obama’s executive orders require expanded background checks, making them more inclusive, scooping up even the transactions of even the smallest players in the market such as second-hand sales by hobbyists and collectors, requiring them to purchase a federal firearms license before they can sell a gun. Obama said he would also make the “outdated” background-check system more efficient, “bringing it into the 21st century.”
Alan Korwin, author of 10 books on gun laws who blogs at gunlaws.com, said Obama’s promise to boost the background checking system is vague and, like many of Tuesday’s executive orders, riddled with unanswered questions.
“They are already very quick with very high ‘Proceed’ rates and fully digital, by Internet, fax or phone,” Korwin said. “It’s unclear what he plans to do, and he didn’t say (but it got applause). We must wait and see.”
Questions also remain unanswered on exactly what will qualify a private gun seller as a “business.” This lack of information may well be intended to intimidate citizens into not selling guns because they are unsure of the rules, critics say.
The ATF will hire more than 200 federal agents to investigate illegal sales while also encouraging manufacturers to implement new technology that would make guns safer. One option is requiring a fingerprint scan of the rightful owner before the gun would fire. He will also spend $500 million on treatment for the mentally ill and make it easier for doctors to report patients to the FBI as not fit to own a gun.
A synopsis of the new requirements was posted Tuesday on the White House website.