As anticipated, President Barack Obama unveiled his sweeping gun control package Wednesday, only instead of issuing the anticipated 19 executive orders, he delivered 23 presidential fiats that include incorporating criminal and mental health records into the NICS background check data base and appointing a permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
"While reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn’t be a divisive one," Obama said during a White House press conference flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and four children who wrote to him in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, it will cost an estimated $500 million to impose the new restrictions outlined in Obama's 23 executive orders.
Also as expected, Republicans responded to Obama's initiatives by crying foul, insisting the president is wielding dictatorial power he doesn't legally have.
"I'm against having a king," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) said on the Sean Hannity show Tuesday night. "Someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress, that's someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch. We will fight tooth and nail and, I promise you, there will be no rock left unturned as far as trying to stop him from usurping the Constitution."
“Unfortunately, some in Washington want to use the recent tragedy for a partisan agenda to enact gun control," Rep. Lamar Smith, (R-Texas), chairman of House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, told the San Antonio Express-News on Wednesday. “Millions of law-abiding Americans should not be penalized for the actions of others."
"Nothing the president is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. Rolling back responsible citizens’ rights is not the proper response to tragedies committed by criminals and the mentally ill," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. "Making matters worse is that President Obama is again abusing his power by imposing his policies via executive fiat instead of allowing them to be debated in Congress. President Obama’s frustration with our republic and the way it works doesn’t give him license to ignore the Constitution."
The National Rifle Association of America responded to Obama's announced initiatives by vowing to work with Congress to promote safety and responsible gun ownership and challenging any attempt to degrade gun owners' rights.
"The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law," the NRA said in its statement. "Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, issued a press release after Obama's conference, noting that the restrictions being imposed by fiat have been "suggested in the past and supported by the firearms community, but they have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears."
Now, Gottlieb said, Obama is using the Newtown shootings to promote an anti-gun agenda that goes above and beyond "common sense" regulation.
"It is now clear he wants to blame law-abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals and madmen," Gottlieb said, noting that the executive orders call for incorporating criminal and mental health records into the NICS background check data base and appointing a permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Too little, too late, he said.
"Where has he been for the last four years?” Gottlieb asked. “Perhaps he was too busy during his first term, while his administration was running thousands of assault rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition and countless high capacity magazines to violent criminals and drug cartel thugs through his administration’s Fast & Furious program. The measures ... will not prevent a repeat of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and he knows it. The initials ‘B. O.’ stand for more than Barack Obama. They stand for the bad odor of his blame game.”
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