Rosenthal applauds President’s leadership and determination despite opposition from many in Congress
Washington, DC – Stop Handgun Violence founder John Rosenthal today joined President Obama, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and activists from across the country at the White House for the President’s announcement of several executive actions to prevent gun violence.
“I applaud the President for refusing to give in to Congressional efforts to block urgently needed gun safety reforms. The new Executive Orders issued today by President Obama will help to address the wave of gun violence,” said Rosenthal, whose Boston-based group has been highlighting the devastating effects of gun violence and pressing for sensible solutions for 20 years. “Hopefully by taking the lead as he has today, the President will give much-needed momentum to policymakers – particularly those at the state level – who are pursuing additional reforms to help reduce the 90 gun deaths and mass shootings America suffers every day.
“I commend the President for his actions today and was proud to join him at the White House for this important announcement,” Rosenthal continued. “Meanwhile, across town, Congress has been hostile to even the most modest gun safety measures and House Speaker Ryan has claimed that President Obama’s actions today are ‘potentially overturning the will of the House.’ If the ‘will of the House’ is to stand idly by while criminals and terrorists continue to obtain assault weapons and concealed handguns without background checks or detection by law enforcement, isn’t it the President’s responsibility to overturn such dangerous and negligent national gun policy? As a gun owner, I strongly support the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, but we must take steps to stem the tide of gun violence in our country. Today’s actions by President Obama are vital to that effort and usher in an important new phase in the campaign to reduce gun violence.”
Specifically, Stop Handgun Violence praised President Obama for:
- closing background check loopholes for private gun dealers,
- improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) system,
- adding FBI and ATF agents to speed the performance of background checks (within 72 hour limit), and
- using federal gun purchasing power to change the way the gun industry does business.
Rosenthal said the Executive Orders announced today represent important progress, and said he looks forward to the President’s legislative agenda, expected to be announced during his State-of-the-Union address later this month.
“It’s clear that any President, acting alone, can only do so much,” Rosenthal said. “It is unconscionable that Congress is not partnering with the Chief Executive on this vital work, despite the daily drumbeat of gun violence across our nation. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on December 14, 2012, there have been more than 160 school shootings and there were mass shooting of four or more people every day of 2015. Assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines are the common denominator in most of these mass shootings. I understand the political realities in Washington, D.C. I still believe strongly, however, that Congress should act to ban those weapons.”
Rosenthal noted that respected legal scholars and political leaders alike have weighed in on the need to eliminate assault weapons.
Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s opinion in Heller:
“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited… that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose… nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms…It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)
President Ronald Reagan:
“While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.” Source.
Rosenthal noted that President Reagan also banned the registration and sale of new fully automatic rifles under the Firearms Owners Protection Act.
Stop Handgun Violence is a non-profit organization committed to the prevention of gun violence through education, public awareness, effective law enforcement and common sense gun laws. The organization does not seek to restrict Constitutional rights, but advocates only for common sense legislation that will help save lives. For more information, go to www.stophandgunviolence.org