With recommendations from Biden in hand, president expected to opt for legislative options rather than executive action
Barack Obama is to step up pressure on Congress to act on gun violence by surrounding himself with schoolchildren from across the country when he unveils proposals on Wednesday aimed at preventing a repeat of the Newtown massacre.
While Obama can take implement some measures almost immediately through executive action, these are limited in scope. The wide-ranging proposals he is looking for require legislation but he faces opposition from Congress, particularly among Republicans, backed by the National Rifle Association.
By bringing schoolchildren to the White House press conference, Obama can tap into some of the emotion aroused by the Connecticut massacre in December that left 20 children and seven adults dead.
At a White House press conference Tuesday, the president’s spokesman Jay Carney said: “I can tell you that tomorrow the president and vice-president will hold an event here at the White House to unveil a package of concrete proposals to reduce gun violence and prevent future tragedies like the one in Newtown, Connecticut.
“They will be joined by children from around the country who wrote the president letters in the wake of that tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety along with their parents.”
Carney said that three measures the president wants would require legislation: a ban on automatic weapons, a reduction in the size of magazines holding bullets and the closure of a loopholes that allows the sale of weapons at gunshows without the same kind of background checks as required elsewhere. Carney said the press conference was scheduled for 11.45 am.
A Washington Post/ABC poll published Tuesday showed that 52% of Americans say they support gun controls in the wake of Newtown.
Vice-president Joe Biden, who is in charge of a taskforce set up by Obama to look into gun controls, promised last Thursday he would make an announcement Tuesday about his recommendations. Instead, it he has left it to Obama to take the lead.
Briefing members of Congress on Monday, Biden told them he had sent Obama 19 proposals that the president could implement through executive action, including better federal data to track gun sales.
Democratic congressman Don Barber, who was among those briefed, told CNN on Tuesday that while much could be done through executive action, the most serious aspects of gun control could only be addressed through legislation.
“In order to do something significant, we are going to have to pass laws,” said Barber, a former aide to congresswoman Gabby Giffords, shot in Tucson, Arizona, in January last year. Barber was elected to replace Giffords.
Obama has already said that he favours legislative action to reduce the size of weapons clips, in addition to an automatic weapons ban. The National Rifle Association will oppose such a move and is almost certain to be backed by Republicans, who have a majority in the House.
Congress passed just such a bill in 1994 but it was allowed to expire 10 years later.
The 19 measures may include tracking of gun sales, addressing violence in video games and providing schools with extra cash for security. Biden, when drawing up recommendations to put to the president, spoke to the gun sellers, the National Rifle Association and video game manufacturers.
North Carolina county halts pistol permits as demand for guns triple during pandemic
Some Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are crying foul after Wake County halted permits for concealed-carry handguns.
The News & Observer reported that the Wake County Sheriff’s Office suspended its permitting process because applications tripled in recent days. According to the sheriff's office, handgun permits were up from 90 to 290 applications per day.
“This decision does not limit anyone’s right to purchase a handgun,” Sheriff Gerald Baker announced on Tuesday.
But at least two Republican lawmakers demanded that Wake Country resume it's "illegal" pause in pistol permits.
Right-wing paramilitary group recruiting Texas cops for ‘bloody civil war’: report
According to a report from the Star-Telegram, a senior member of the rightwing paramilitary group Oath Keepers who moved to Texas in 2015 is actively recruiting local law enforcement employees while telling them a "bloody civil war" against the U.S. government is on the horizon.
The report states that John D. Shirley, the national director of the Las Vegas-based Oath Keepers finagled himself a job as a county constable in Hood County which provided him with access to other police officers and now he is using his position to recruit.
Investigators see ‘xenophobic motive’ behind Germany shootings
German investigators said Thursday they suspected a "xenophobic motive" behind shootings at a shisha bar and a cafe that left 10 dead overnight in the city of Hanau.
Hours after police found the suspected gunman dead at his home in the early hours of Thursday following a huge manhunt, federal counter-terror prosecutors took over the case.
The probe was of "particular importance" and there were "signs of a xenophobic motive", a spokesman for the prosecutors told AFP.
Sources close to the investigation confirmed media reports that text and video material was found at the home of the perpetrator, who media reported was a 43-year-old man identified only as Tobias R.