By Mary O’KEEFE
President Barack Obama announced his gun control proposals Wednesday in a ceremony at the White House. The new proposals included 23 executive actions and is an ambitious step in a divided Congress. With young children who had written letters asking for reform standing behind him on the stage he signed the proposals into action.
The plan includes closing loopholes in background checks, banning military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines, increasing access to mental health services and making schools safer, offering ways to help districts get school resource officers.
The President also proposed keeping cops on the street. According to the proposal, the President plans to ask Congress to “act on the Administration’s $4 billion proposal to help keep 15,000 cops on the streets in cities and towns across the country.”
In addition, the plan is to put up to 1,000 more school resource officers and counselors in schools.
The programs are far-reaching and will cost money to implement.
“[More] cops require resources,” said Congressman Adam Schiff.
Schiff, who was at the signing Wednesday morning, added it had been a fight in Congress in the past when more money was needed for law enforcement.
“It was a moving ceremony to be at,” he said. “There were a number of [members in the audience] that had children that were [killed] or injured at Virginia Tech and those that were [in Tucson] when Gabby (Giffords) was shot.”
In 2007, a 23-year-old man shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In 2011, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in an apparent assassination attempt while she was at a public event in Tucson.
Also in the audience were relatives of some of the 20 children that were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14 including Chris and Lynn McDonnell, parents of Grace who was killed at the school.
The proposals come in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, which has brought fresh dialogue to the issue of gun control.
“This is our first task as a society in keeping our children safe,” Obama said.
Schiff is hopeful that Congress will take action and said since the Sandy Hook massacre he has seen some changes in his fellow legislators in regard to gun laws.
“But [getting these proposals through Congress ] is going to be difficult and challenging,” he said.