A string of gun violence incidents, including the shooting deaths of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary, has brought about widespread talk on the subjects of prevention, including gun control and increased mental health help. Today President Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, addressed these issues in a live speech. Here's what you need to know about the President's 23 executive actions.
+ On Gun Control
For one, President Obama wants to strengthen background checks on gun sales, so that checks are done 100% of the time. Right now it’s estimated that about 40% of guns are sold without background checks. He also wants to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Because of the high casualties they can easily inflict -- like at Columbine High, Virginia Tech University, the Aurora movie theatre and Sandy Hook Elementary -- many gun control advocates strongly believe they need to stay of out the hands of civilians.
"We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale," the President said.
During his speech, the President was flanked by a group of children who had written him about gun control. He spoke about the American people having a right to bear arms, but that with rights comes responsibility. Sikhs going to worship had been denied their freedom of religion when they were shot, and children at a number of schools were denied their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness when someone opened fire on them, he said.
+ On Mental Health
Not all of his plans deal with gun control, however. President Obama is also turning to mental well-being, and wants to ensure mental health is taken seriously and covered by insurance. His plan includes measures to ensure quality coverage of mental health treatment, particularly for young people, as well as ending the freeze on gun violence research. The plan explains that, while Congress has barred funding to government agencies on issues advocating for gun control, Obama will go forth "directing the [Center for Disease Control] and other research agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence."
+ What Now?
“Let’s do the right thing,” POTUS continued, before signing the orders and hugging the children around him. Once signed, The White House launched a website, Now Is The Time, detailing the plan and continued the conversation on social media -- #NowIsTheTime was still trending top 5 in the United States as of press time.
Talk about gun control is an important topic, though it can also be divisive. Not everyone agrees on how it should be handled. But after multiple school shootings, including Columbine, Virginia Tech and Newtown, it's clear that the issue of gun safety affects us all. Join the conversation and learn more about gun safety by taking action below.
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