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President Obama on Gun Control

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Sandy Hook School Shooting

On December 14, 2012, nearly one month after Obama's re-election, the nation endured one of its most tragic school shootings to date when 20 children and six adults were shot to death at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Two days after the attack, Obama delivered a speech at an interfaith vigil for the victims in Newtown and discussed the need for change in order to make schools safer while alluding to implementing stricter gun-control measures.

"These tragedies must end," Obama stated. "In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens—from law enforcement, to mental-health professionals, to parents and educators—in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like these as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"

Obama achieved a major legislative victory on January 1, 2013, when the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a bipartisan agreement on tax increases and spending cuts, in an effort to avoid the looming fiscal cliff crisis (the Senate voted in favor of the bill earlier that day). The agreement marked a productive first step toward the president's re-election promise of reducing the federal deficit by raising taxes on the extremely wealthy—individuals earning more than $400,000 per year and couples earning more than $450,000, according to the bill.

Prior to the bill's passage, in late 2012, tense negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over spending cuts and tax increases became a bitter political battle until Vice President Joe Biden managed to hammer out a deal with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Obama pledged to sign the bill into law.

Boston Marathon Bombings

Terrorist bombings of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, killed three people and left more than 200 injured. At a memorial service in Boston three days after the bombings, he told the wounded, "Your country is with you. We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again. Of that I have no doubt. You will run again." And he applauded the city’s response to the tragedy. "You’ve shown us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion."

In the same month, Obama also found his efforts for gun-control measures thwarted in Congress. He had supported legislation calling for universal background checks on all gun purchases and a ban on sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. When the bill was blocked and withdrawn, Obama called it “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

Gun Control Executive Orders

In early January 2016 Obama held a press conference to announce a new series of executive orders related to gun control. Citing examples such as the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, the president shed tears as he called on Congress and the gun lobby to work with him to make the country safer.

His measures, which were met with vehement opposition from members of both the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as gun advocacy groups such as the NRA, would have implemented more thorough background checks for gun buyers, stricter government oversight and enforcement of gun laws, better information sharing regarding mental health issues as related to gun ownership and investment in gun safety technology.

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Barack Obama 90.jpg

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