Officials react to gun control proposal

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Surrounded by children who wrote him letters after last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, President Obama signed 23 executive orders aimed at reducing gun violence Wednesday.

These orders, which do not require Congressional approval, expand school safety programs and increase access to mental health services. The rest of what Obama wants to accomplish will not be so easy.

"This will be difficult," Obama said. "There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical all-out assault on liberty." "If there is one thing we can do to reduce this violence, even one life that can be saved, then we have an obligation to try it."

His call to Congress is to restore a ban on assault weapons like the one used in Aurora, Colo. last summer, a 10-round limit for magazines and universal background checks for every gun buyer.

"Ask your member of Congress if they support universal background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands, ask them if they support renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines."

The following were the responses gathered from local officials:

Rep. Scott Rigell's office(R-VA): "The Congressman is thoughtfully examining the President's proposal as well as other legislative options to achieve this and is actively seeking the wisdom of the district on this important topic."

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA): “As a father, a grandfather, and the spouse of a teacher, my heart goes out to all the families affected by the tragedy at Newtown. Tragedies like these warrant review and careful consideration of what can be done to prevent such tragedies in the future. While I will review the President’s proposals, I have concerns about the President working around Congress and the legislative process. I also believe we must strongly uphold the Constitution and Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Senator-elect Tim Kaine (D-VA): “I’ve long advocated universal background checks, including closing the gun show loophole, to ensure weapons do not fall into the hands of dangerous individuals. I am encouraged by proposals to increase security in our schools, including preparing and training school officials for emergency situations. I strongly support improvements to our mental health system. In the coming weeks I look forward to reviewing the details of proposed limits on killer magazines and combat weapons and believe we should adopt reasonable restrictions. The Senate must take action on this issue and I look forward to working together to achieve common sense reform that will keep our children and communities safer while preserving the Second Amendment.”

Rep. Bobby Scott (R-VA): "I commend the President for releasing his proposal to address gun violence.  The President, Vice President, and the members of the House Democratic Gun Violence Prevention Task Force all agree that we need a comprehensive approach to reduce and prevent gun violence.  The President's proposed executive actions will be a critical and necessary improvement to the administration of current laws.  However, it is incumbent on Congress to act to amend the law to require background checks for all gun sales, reinstate the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and ensure that gun traffickers are held responsible for helping place guns into the hands of criminals. During the next several weeks, I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Thompson and my colleagues on the Task Force to examine the President’s proposals and the proposals of others.  We will continue meeting with stakeholders on every side of this issue.  Next Tuesday, I will co-host a youth violence prevention summit.  This summit will highlight the importance and effectiveness of a comprehensive, evidenced-based approach to addressing youth violence by gathering testimony from numerous experts in the fields of juvenile and criminal justice, mental health, education, child development and law enforcement. I fully expect that our Task Force will develop a comprehensive, evidenced-based set of policy proposals that will help keep our communities safe from gun violence.”

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