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President Takes Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

Alaska's Congressional Delegation Responds



January 06, 2016
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) - The 44th President of the United States Barack Obama speaking to the nation Tuesday announced he is taking executive action to reduce gun violence in the United States. Obama said, he was not speaking to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try to prevent the next one.

Obama asked during his speech, "How did we get here? How did we get to the place where people think requiring a comprehensive background check means taking away people’s guns?"

jpg President Takes Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

“We know that we can’t stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one?” President Obama, 01/05/16
Photo grab from White House video

President Obama said, "Now, I want to be absolutely clear at the start -- and I’ve said this over and over again, this also becomes routine, there is a ritual about this whole thing that I have to do -- I believe in the Second Amendment. It’s there written on the paper. It guarantees a right to bear arms. No matter how many times people try to twist my words around -- I taught constitutional law, I know a little about this -- I get it. But I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment."

In his speech Obama said, We all believe in the First Amendment, the guarantee of free speech, but we accept that you can’t yell “fire” in a theater. We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people. We cherish our right to privacy, but we accept that you have to go through metal detectors before being allowed to board a plane. It’s not because people like doing that, but we understand that that’s part of the price of living in a civilized society."

During Tuesday's comments, Obama said, "Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns -- 30,000. Suicides. Domestic violence. Gang shootouts. Accidents. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters, or buried their own children. Many have had to learn to live with a disability, or learned to live without the love of their life."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in 2013, there were 33,636 gun deaths. Suicides made up 63% (21,190). Homicides made up 33% (11,208). The remaining 4% (1,345) of the gun deaths included unintentional discharges, legal intervention/war and undetermined.

The President said the United States of America is not the only country on Earth with violent or dangerous people. "We are not inherently more prone to violence. But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn't happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal."

Obama said instead of thinking about how to solve the problem, this has become one of our most polarized, partisan debates -- despite the fact that there’s a general consensus in America about what needs to be done. That’s part of the reason the President is going to hold a town hall meeting this Thursday in Virginia on gun violence. "Because my goal here is to bring good people on both sides of this issue together for an open discussion."

New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Communities Safer include keeping guns out of the wrong hands through background checks; increasing mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system; & shaping the future of gun safety technology. (Click here to read the detailed Fact Sheet)

"How did this become such a partisan issue? Republican President George W. Bush once said, “I believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don’t get into the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.” Senator John McCain introduced a bipartisan measure to address the gun show loophole, saying, “We need this amendment because criminals and terrorists have exploited and are exploiting this very obvious loophole in our gun safety laws.” Even the NRA used to support expanded background checks. And by the way, most of its members still do. Most Republican voters still do," said Obama.

Obama said what’s often ignored in this debate is that a majority of gun owners actually agree. Obama said, "A majority of gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking feud from inflicting harm on a massive scale."

Alaska's Congressional Delegation responded Tuesday to President Obama's announcement of his decision to take executive action to reduce gun violence.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said in a prepared statement, "Our Second Amendment rights are non-negotiable. Many Alaskans depend on the Second Amendment to safeguard their way of life, whether it’s for personal protection, subsistence, or sports and recreation. I have worked hard to ensure that these rights are not infringed upon and I will continue to do so.

Murkowksi said, “The President is no friend of practical bipartisan solutions to the gun violence problem, and he is no friend of the Second Amendment. He refuses to work with Congress on initiatives that will actually fix gun violence issues such as the bipartisan Grassley-Cruz proposal that I co-sponsored in 2013 or the bipartisan Cassidy-Murphy mental health legislation in the current Congress which I also co-sponsored. Instead, President Obama is yet again sidestepping Congress to act with the stroke of a pen on an issue concerning our Constitutional rights."

“We have a serious problem in our nation when it comes to violence and mass shootings—they are senseless and tragic. But instead of unilaterally imposing stricter gun control laws, we need to get to the root of the problem." said Murkowski.

Murkowski said, “I am very troubled that the President thinks gun control can effectively be achieved through executive decree. I want to keep Americans safe, and I agree that we need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable. But we must ensure any solution does not compromise our Second Amendment rights.”

In a prepared statement, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said, “Like most Alaskans, I’m extremely troubled by President Obama’s executive actions that limit our Second Amendment rights."

Sullivan said, "The president failed to get a gun control bill through a Senate controlled by his own party in 2013. Now he’s decided to take certain actions to bypass Congress. Make no mistake, these actions are a direct affront to our Constitution, which dictates that Congress, not the Executive Branch, makes laws. But the President has repeatedly shown that he believes that if the citizens of this country, through their representatives, stand up to him, he can go around them through executive fiat. Examples are numerous and extend to our lands, our waters, our energy sector, our financial and healthcare industries and to our technology sector. The implications of this kind of overreach for our constitutional form of government are profound. But his most recent actions to limit who can buy, sell and trade in firearms is particularly troubling for Alaskans, many of whom depend on their guns for protection and to feed their family.

“Alaskans are horrified by murders carried out by criminals and terrorists, such as what happened in San Bernardino, CA. But we understand that whittling away our right to bear arms and keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens is not the way to prevent these tragedies," said Sullivan.

Sullivan said, “The President claims that he’s acting because Congress ‘has failed’ to do so. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Congress has acted. We have listened to the people we represent who soundly reject the President’s overreach. And we will continue to listen to them, and do all we can to protect their constitutional rights.”

Congressman Don Young (R-AK) said in a prepared statement, “January 5th, 2016 will go down in history as one of the saddest days in America, in Alaska especially, because of Obama’s statement on executive actions on guns in America. If you see what he’s trying to do, he’s taking everything away from the Congress. His argument to the general public is, ‘well the Congress hasn’t acted.’ We are the voice of the people. If the people wanted us to do this as he’s doing then it would’ve been done. Remember, when the Democrats were in full majority they couldn’t do it because the people didn’t want it done. This is what America is about."

Young said, “Why I say this is a sad day is because I am now seeing the decline of the great United States of America led by one person, the president of the United States, who thinks he’s the king. It’s unfair, it’s unconstitutional and I doubt overall he’ll be able to do it. Just the attempt to do it takes away from the Second Amendment, which is the Second Amendment I’ve supported all my career, all my life, and I’ll continue to support it."

“I noticed that he’s proposed additional FBI agents, additional ATF agents – people to implement what he’s proposing. That’s one way we as a Congress can stop it. I have no objection checking for mental illness. I have no objection to that. But when it says if I’m a seller, or I’m a father, and I want to sell a gun to my brother, or my uncle, or my kids and I have to get a license to do so – this is an expansion of what he’s trying to do. And what he’s really trying to do is disarm the citizenry of America. This has been the progressives position all along so the government can tell you what to do, and how to do it, and when to do it, with no concept of freedom," said Young.

“Again, this is a sad day for me," said Young, "but we’re going to fight it every inch of the way. The Second Amendment is sacred; it is the most major amendment to all the other amendments including the First Amendment. You can’t keep the First Amendment if you don’t have the Second Amendment."

“We’re going to work on this all the way, and we’re going to continue to work with the Congress to make sure this president doesn’t get his way. That’s not the real danger though. The real danger is who becomes the next president. If that president follows Obama’s footsteps it’s going to be no more America, no more United States of America. It’s going to be a monarchy, the king who sits in a chair – or queen, this we don’t know. So it’s very important in November to think about this as you go to the polls. It’s important to keep this country free. I don’t want to be Europe. I don’t want to be Australia. I don’t want to be Canada. I want to be the United States of America and that’s what I’m working for.”

Alaska House Representative Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage) was a co-sponsor of two resolutions during the 28th Alaska Legislature, House Joint Resolution 4 and Senate Joint Resolution 6, to curb the president’s "serial abuse of executive orders and opposing restrictions to the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms". Lynn also co-sponsored House Bill 69 which directs the State of Alaska not to enforce any administrative or executive orders unless Congress passes legislation carrying out the order.

Lynn denounced President Barack Obama’s latest executive orders saying the President continues to attempt to usurp the power of Congress. “I’m not introducing another resolution on the same subject,” Lynn said. “The legislation I co-sponsored already makes a clear point and can be used by our Congressional delegation to help address unconstitutional Executive Orders.”

“President Obama has become a serial abuser of congressional rights and Second Amendment Rights,” said Rep.Lynn. “He should know better - he was a professor of Constitutional law. That makes it worse. Shame on him and shame on Congress if we let him get away with it.”

“The new Speaker of the Alaska House Paul Ryan (R) said, ‘No President should be able to reverse legislative failure by executive fiat, not even incrementally.’ I agree,” Lynn added.

“We have seen terrorism in San Bernardino, not too far from where I used to teach,” Lynn said. “We suffer from nut-jobs shooting innocent people in schools and theaters. Our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms is not negotiable.”

The executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox, released a statement on Tuesday regarding President Barack Obama's Executive Gun Control Order: "Once again, President Obama has chosen to engage in political rhetoric, instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation's pressing problems. Today's event also represents an ongoing attempt to distract attention away from his lack of a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe from terrorist attack."

Cox said, "The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts. The men and women of the National Rifle Association take a back seat to no one when it comes to keeping our communities safe. But the fact is that President Obama's proposals would not have prevented any of the horrific events he mentioned. The timing of this announcement, in the eighth and final year of his presidency, demonstrates not only political exploitation but a fundamental lack of seriousness. "

"The proposed executive actions are ripe for abuse by the Obama Administration, which has made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment. The NRA will continue to fight to protect the fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms as guaranteed under our Constitution. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be harassed or intimidated for engaging in lawful, constitutionally-protected activity – nor will we allow them to become scapegoats for President Obama's failed policies," said Cox.

On the Web:

Read the Full Remarks by the President B. Obama on Common-Sense Gun Safety Reform

Listen to President Obama's Full Comments

Fact Sheet: Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer


Sources of News:

White House

Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

Office of U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan

Office of Congressman Don Young

Alaska House Majority - Representative Bob Lynn

U.S. Census Bureau

National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action


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