Obama unveils actions to curb gun violence

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Washington, Jan 6 (IANS) US President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled some executive measures on gun control, including expanding background checks and calling for “a sense of urgency” about gun violence.

Obama on Tuesday presented a series of executive orders to help prevent some 30,000 people from getting shot to death every year.

His executive actions, without Congress’ approval, widen background checks on potential gun buyers, the BBC reported.

Wiping away tears, Obama recalled the Sandy Hook primary school shooting in 2012 where 20 children and six adults were killed.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” the president said, wiping away tears.

More than 30,000 Americans lose their lives by guns, Obama said, adding that the US is “the only advanced country on the Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency”.

Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks or be subject to criminal prosecutions, Obama said.

He said his administration will hire more people to process background checks to make the system more efficient, and add 200 more agents and investigators to ensure the “smart and effective” enforcement of gun safety laws, Xinhua news agency reported.

The administration will also invest $500 million to expand access to the treatment of mental illness across the country, he said.

The leader of the House of Representatives, Republican Paul Ryan, said the plans were certain to be challenged in the courts.

“His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty,” he said.

Leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted: “@POTUS is right: We can protect the second Amendment while protecting our families and communities from gun violence. And we have to.”

Meanwhile, sales of guns in the US appear to have risen, amid speculation in recent weeks that the White House was going to tighten the law.

“The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now, but they can’t hold America hostage,” Obama said.

The measures outlined on Tuesday by Obama were limited since his legal advisers considered actions that unilaterally establish universal background checks or that ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons or high capacity magazines go beyond his legal authority.

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