The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.
From the White House – Weekly Address
In this week’s address, the President reflected on the progress of the past year, and looked forward to working on unfinished business in the coming year, particularly when it comes to the epidemic of gun violence. As he has many times before, the President reminded us that Congress has repeatedly failed to take action and pass laws that would reduce gun violence. That’s why the President a few months ago tasked his White House team with identifying new actions he can take to help reduce gun violence, and on Monday will meet with the Attorney General to discuss the options. In his address, the President called on everyone to join him in the fight to reduce gun violence, because it’s going to take all of us to make America safer for our children.
Transcript: Weekly Address: Making America Safer for Our Children
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address, The White House, January 1, 2016
Happy New Year, everybody. I am fired up for the year that stretches out before us. That’s because of what we’ve accomplished together over the past seven.
Seven years ago, our businesses were losing 800,000 jobs a month. They’ve now created jobs for 69 straight months, driving the unemployment rate from a high of 10% down to 5%.
Seven years ago, too many Americans went without health insurance. We’ve now covered more than 17 million people, dropping the rate of the uninsured below 10% for the very first time.
Seven years ago, we were addicted to foreign oil. Now our oil imports have plummeted, our clean energy industry is booming, and America is a global leader in the fight against climate change.
Seven years ago, there were only two states in America with marriage equality. And now there are 50.
All of this progress is because of you. And we’ve got so much more to do. So my New Year’s resolution is to move forward on our unfinished business as much as I can. And I’ll be more frequently asking for your help. That’s what this American project is all about.
That’s especially true for one piece of unfinished business, that’s our epidemic of gun violence.
Last month, we remembered the third anniversary of Newtown. This Friday, I’ll be thinking about my friend Gabby Giffords, five years into her recovery from the shooting in Tucson. And all across America, survivors of gun violence and those who lost a child, a parent, a spouse to gun violence are forced to mark such awful anniversaries every single day.
And yet Congress still hasn’t done anything to prevent what happened to them from happening to other families. Three years ago, a bipartisan, commonsense bill would have required background checks for virtually everyone who buys a gun. Keep in mind, this policy was supported by some 90% of the American people. It was supported by a majority of NRA households. But the gun lobby mobilized against it. And the Senate blocked it.
Since then, tens of thousands of our fellow Americans have been mowed down by gun violence. Tens of thousands. Each time, we’re told that commonsense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, so we shouldn’t do anything.
We know that we can’t stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something – anything – to protect our kids from gun violence?
A few months ago, I directed my team at the White House to look into any new actions I can take to help reduce gun violence. And on Monday, I’ll meet with our Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to discuss our options. Because I get too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids, to sit around and do nothing. I get letters from responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time these tragedies happen; who share my belief that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms; and who share my belief we can protect that right while keeping an irresponsible, dangerous few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.
Seven years ago …
We were 19 days away from Barack Obama’s first inauguration, a day that signaled a momentous change in America, a day that would unleash the furies of racism and bigotry and hatred of The Other but also a day that gave the rest of us hope for a future that included all Americans. Much of the hope for change was dashed by a recalcitrant and obstructionist Congress, not just when we lost our majorities in 2010 but when the Democratic Senate lost its will and was unable to pass bills that would have gotten us out of the Great Recession sooner. But we did get a recovery act, a health care act, and, hugely, an administration dedicated to cleaning up the mess that the Bush Administration had made of the Justice Department where cronyism had destroyed the rule of law. Big stuff.
This year we need to remember what a Democratic administration can do, even without Congress. And not give up working to give the next president a more Democratic Congress … election cycle after election cycle … until Congress finally reflects We The People instead of the cynical gerrymandered America devised by red state governors.
In the News: New York Times Editorial, January 1st: Two Ways of Dealing With Guns
Indeed. Forty-five other states allow open carry so it is not just Texas. As the editorial points out, a man openly brandishing a weapon on a Colorado street caused alarm to a resident who called police. She was told that the law allowed the man to openly carry his weapon … and minutes later he opened fire and killed three strangers whose right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” was trumped by that man’s right to openly carry a weapon.
The Seattle tax:
Does a tax on cigarettes “regulate” tobacco products? Does a tax on hotel rooms “regulate” sleeping? Does a tax on fuel “regulate” our right to drive our cars? Perhaps, to the extent that you have to pay more and might decide not to buy or consume whatever is being taxed. But that is a stretch that is going to be difficult to make as that lawsuit is appealed through state courts and then probably all the way to the Supreme Court.
Reports on the president’s planned actions …
ThinkProgress: Obama Reportedly Will Move To Expand Gun Background Checks By Executive Order
Reuters: Obama, frustrated by Congress, plans unilateral gun control steps
Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted in response to reports of President Obama’s planned initiatives:
I’m sorry, I have no clue what the heck he means. Come and take what???? Does anyone have a Texas Gun Humper to Intelligent Human translator?
Thanks for this, Jan! I do hope this becomes the year that something is finally done. This country is insane. Mothers Against Drunk Driving hasn’t stopped drunk driving but it did accomplish one thing: it’s become socially unacceptable to drive drunk or to brag about driving drunk.
Myself, I think background checks might help but the only thing that would really work is confiscation or voluntarily turning in weapons. We turned in the revolver that Dearly Beloved acquired when he was an auxiliary police officer. We’ve never missed it. Locked doors and windows and a barking dog are our counter methods of choice.
I think to own a gun for self-defense means being willing to use it on another human being. I am not sure I could. So like you, locked doors and a barking dog will have to be enough. The other thing is that I don’t fear all the things that most of these folks fear: I don’t fear diversity, I don’t fear a government takeover of health care, I don’t fear Muslims, I don’t worry about Daesh coming to my front door to behead me. I do fear a gunhumper accidentally shooting off a weapon in a theatre or a mall or thinking he is seeing a robbery in progress at my bank and exchanging gunfire with his delusions … but me being armed is not going to stop that.
You are exactly right about MADD – they shamed drunk drivers and, really, drunks. The NRA-inflamed right will never be shamed so I will settle for a few more dangerous people no longer being able to buy guns.
In the News: When Bipartisan Responses to National Problems were not the third-rail of right-wing politics …
It was not that long ago that Republicans placed their constituents over their political donors. The “new” Republicans are trying to gut this law and Dodd-Frank, the law passed, with little bipartisan support, to help protect us from the financial industry excesses that led to the Great Recession.
Yes, saw Oxley’s obit in the WaPo just now. This seems so long ago: