Obama To Host Town Hall Addressing Gun Violence

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto/REX Shutterstock
Update: 12:15 p.m.: The White House announced that President Obama will participate in a live, televised town hall this Thursday, January 7, to discuss gun violence in the United States. The event will be held at George Mason University, outside of Washington, D.C. It will air on CNN starting at 8 p.m. EST.
This story was originally published on January 2, 2016.

After being forced to address a tragic number of mass shootings during his administration, President Obama is finally doing what many Americans have urged him to do for years. In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama announced that he will be meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to discuss taking executive action on gun control.

In Saturday’s video, Obama stated that in his last year in office, he “intend[ed] to move forward on unfinished business as much as [he] can…that’s especially true for one piece of unfinished business, our epidemic of gun violence.”

In the aftermath of a year that saw four individual mass shootings, Obama appears to be tired of waiting for Congress to take action. “Congress still has not done anything to prevent what happened to them from happening to other families.” A few months ago, Obama tasked a White House team with identifying actions that he can take regarding gun violence, potentially bypassing a Congress which has proven repeatedly reluctant to take action.

Obama attempted to take similar measures in 2012 after the shooting at Sandy Hook in Newton, CT, that killed 28 people, mostly young children. But Congress refused to cooperate, blocking or voting down proposals to ban certain types of assault weapons and restricting the sale of large amounts of ammunition. Also defeated was a measure to expand background checks, which are meant to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

This time around, Obama seems to be aiming for actions he can take unilaterally. Politico speculates that he's targeting an expansion of the number of small-scale gun sellers who are required to be licensed, which would in turn require them to conduct background checks. Also under discussion may be measures to prevent convicted abusers from owning guns and instructing federal law enforcement to arrest criminals who attempt to buy illegal guns. It’s a positive step following the actions he took in 2013, when he announced 23 actions intended to reduce gun violence in the aftermath of Sandy Hook.

The official plan of action will likely be revealed during the State of the Union address on January 12, after Obama returns from his vacation in Hawaii.

Obama finished by asking for the support of voters who agree with him. "The gun lobby is loud and well organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well-organized in our defense of our kids."
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