President Unveils $500 Million Gun Control Package

By: John Chapman, The Associated Press Email
By: John Chapman, The Associated Press Email

 Click here to read the entire plan from President Obama.

President Obama announced a $500 million package of executive actions and legislative proposals on Wednesday aimed at reducing gun violence a month after a mass shooting in Connecticut killed 20 elementary school children.

The package includes a call on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and it would close loopholes in the gun sale background check system.

Obama also is signing 23 executive actions, which require no congressional approval, including measures to encourage schools to hire police officers, increase research on gun violence and improve efforts to prosecute gun crime.

Obama is directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence and is seeking rules to ensure that law enforcement conducts background checks before returning seized firearms. He intends to nominate Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones is the agency's acting director.

More and more people are lining up to get permits to buy guns and local law enforcement says those numbers began to grow after the Newtown school shooting. Those numbers continued to grow after President Obama began to talk about stricter measures to control guns. His effort to reduce gun violence starts on computers around the country.

Computers in the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department run background checks on those who want gun permits and lately the computers and the people in the office have been getting quite the workout.

“The president was on TV today talking about gun control, that'll cause a number of people to come in because they're afraid their gun rights are gonna be compromised,” said Chief Deputy Martin Bilek.

Bilek says the number of people looking for gun permits has grown from 35 to 100 a day. Susan Stewart of Omaha was one of those applying for a gun permit. “I think with the publicity with the president and the changes coming up, I just wanted to be sure that there would be nothing from stopping me doing it."

The first step in getting a permit to buy a gun is to get through computers that check local, state and federal records. “What will keep you from being able to possess a handgun legally, if you’re a felon, if you've been adjudicated mentally ill, if you’re a drug user and if you've been convicted of domestic violence,” said Deputy Bilek.

The president wants background checks to be more thorough. He wants states to share information with other states and he wants legal barriers like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws to go away and that personal medical information be made available through the background check system.

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