1:40 PM EST, January 16, 2013
Reaction was extensive and varied to President Barack Obama’s noontime speech Wednesday in which he proposed legislation and announced executive actions intended to reduce gun violence after the Dec. 14 Newtown school massacre.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued a statement saying:
“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.”
Malloy, on Twitter, also tweeted at least three times:
States can’t go it alone. We need leadership at the federal level, and for the first time in a long time, we have it.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., issued a statement saying:
This profoundly historic initiative puts the full moral and political weight of the presidency behind strong and specific measures to reduce gun violence. It is presidential leadership at its best and boldest. It presents an action agenda – common sense steps from law enforcement and public health professionals toward consensus and common ground that the American people support. It is a blueprint to seize this moment – keeping faith with victims of horrific recent tragedies – and sustain the momentum.
I support the Administration’s specific call for universal criminal background checks, bans on deadly assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, national criminal database improvements, increases in mental health funding, federal gun violence research, and anti-trafficking proposals. I will continue to fight for mandatory background checks on ammunition purchases, which are the black hole of gun violence prevention.
I look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with a broad coalition – comprising the Newtown community, law enforcement professionals, and countless people in Connecticut and across the country who have said to me again and again with deep grief and outrage: We have to do something.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., issued a statement saying:
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.
Murphy, on Twitter, also tweeted:
Strong recommendations from the WH. If horror of Sandy Hook doesn’t move Congress to act on common sense gun laws, I have no idea what will
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, issued a statement saying:
“President Obama acted on the promise he made 30 days ago at Newtown High School to make our kids safer. His orders will plug holes in the background check system and help local school districts have police security. The common-sense changes to the background check program will stop guns from getting into the hands of criminals and the mentally disturbed, while preserving Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
“From the beginning, this necessary discussion has been marred by national NRA leadership’s attempts to divide the American people and prevent progress that even an overwhelming majority of gun owners and the NRA’s law-abiding membership believes is necessary. These reasonable proposals have been suggested to me in conversations with responsible gun owners in Connecticut since the Newtown tragedy.
“President Obama set the ball in motion today. Now it is up to Congress to build on that solid start. We can do this.”
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, issued a statement saying:
“The plan President Obama announced today is a strong first step, but now Congress needs to take action. Several critical ideas the President outlined, such as closing background check loopholes and banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines need legislative action to be reality. We should waste no time moving forward on these proposals.
“And the Presidential Memorandum signed today directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the causes and prevention of gun violence is great news for our researchers. For 15 years Congress has intimidated them into turning a blind eye to the research that could help us understand why gun violence happens, and stop it from devastating the lives of too many families. As the senior Democrat on the subcommittee that funds the CDC, I will do everything in my power to make sure these arbitrary restrictions are history.
“Finally, I am especially pleased that he included making additional mental health resources available a major part of his proposal, particularly to train mental health professional to serve students and young adults. Eighty percent of adults and 67 percent of children who need mental health services do not receive treatment. This must end and I look forward to making these proposals a reality.
“President Obama outlined an expansive plan, and that is exactly as it should be, as there is no single solution to stopping gun violence. Between the slaughter of the innocents that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School just over one month ago and yesterday at noon, 917 Americans were killed by guns. Those 917 families, along with the ones at Virginia Tech, Newtown and Aurora, need us to act now.”
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, based in Washington State, issued a press release saying:
BELLEVUE, WA — President Barack Obama has deliberately missed the target with his proposed gun control scheme, announced today at the White House, because it is now clear he wants to blame law-abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals and madmen, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said.
“Suddenly Mr. Obama wants to get more criminal and mental health records into the NICS background check data base and get a permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,” observed CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “Where has he been for the last four years?”
Gottlieb noted that these proposals have been suggested in the past and supported by the firearms community, but they have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. But now, as he exploits the Sandy Hook school tragedy, these items are high on his anti-gun agenda.
“Perhaps he was too busy during his first term, while his administration was running thousands of assault rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition and countless high capacity magazines to violent criminals and drug cartel thugs through his administration’s Fast & Furious program,” Gottlieb observed. “Now he wants to take away our Second Amendment rights when he and his friends have put more assault weapons in the wrong hands than all of organized crime?
“These firearms have been used not only to kill a Border Patrol agent, but also hundreds of people including women and children,” he added. “This policy has resulted in more deaths and carnage than all the mass shootings in the United States in last ten years.
“The measures being proposed by the president will not prevent a repeat of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and he knows it,” Gottlieb continued. “The initials ‘B. O.’ stand for more than Barack Obama. They stand for the bad odor of his blame game.”
With more than 650,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (www.ccrkba.org) is one of the nation’s premier gun rights organizations. As a non-profit organization, the Citizens Committee is dedicated to preserving firearms freedoms through active lobbying of elected officials and facilitating grass-roots organization of gun rights activists in local communities throughout the United States.
Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, said that Obama’s commitment to helping schools that want them hire school resource officers is “very helpful… Districts across the state and across the country are really looking intensely at school security and very often having a trained police officer in the schools would seem to be an excellent method of helping to increase safety.”
He added, “I’m sure parents will be pushing for it [more school resource officers] to protect their children. Every community has to decide what security measures are best for them.”
Rader said he is also supportive of any efforts to increase mental health resources “so that people who are disturbed actually get the help that they need.”
Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers’ national president, issued a statement saying:
“The tragic events of Newtown must serve as a clarion call for immediate action to keep our communities safe from gun violence and ensure schools are the safe sanctuaries our children need to learn and grow. We applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for heeding this call for action with a series of common-sense, balanced proposals that will make our nation safer, including:
“Schools across our country are in desperate need of resources to create safe, secure and nurturing learning environments, and we are glad the president has recognized that need. Some schools, due to their remoteness or following horrendous tragedies such as the massacre in Newtown, may decide that appropriately trained police officers are necessary. Other schools may decide instead that more school guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists are needed. These decisions should be made by individual school communities following safety audits.
“Under no circumstances should educators have the responsibility of being armed, and schools should not become armed fortresses. The role of educators is to teach and nurture our children, not to be armed guards.
“In times of great tragedy, Americans have always come together to grieve, to support one another, and to act—to put aside what divides us and take collective action to heal and move our nation forward. Too many of our children have had their lives cut short and their futures denied by gun violence—in their schools and in their communities. We have a set of effective proposals and now we must find the political will to get it done.”
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