Obama did his part. Will Congress?
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, law enforcement officials, lawmakers and children who wrote the president about gun violence following last month's shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., gestures as he talks about proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington.
Here's what the editorial boards of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times have to say about President Obama's plan to curb gun violence:
Chicago Tribune Editorial:
The goal of this national conversation is simple: sensible efforts in multiple realms that, taken together, will reduce gun violence and pass constitutional muster. The status quo isn't working.
Action on the toughest questions -- an assault-weapons ban, limiting magazine capacity and federal background checks -- will fall to the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate. Democrats hold a 55-45 advantage, although roughly a dozen of those Democrats come from states where gun control is especially unpopular.
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senators such as Dick Durbin of Illinois face a difficult task getting members of their own party, let alone Republicans, to support these ideas. We applaud the swiftness with which Obama and Biden delivered suggestions.
Obama released a list of 23 actions he plans to take, and can take, without congressional authorization. He directed the attorney general to review categories of people prohibited from owning guns and propose changes. He called for a national campaign on safe gun ownership. His suggestions also include long-overdue steps to try to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands.
Members of Congress, before you tackle the most divisive ideas, you have plenty of room for agreement. After decades of debate on weapons and mental-health issues, after too many incidents of gun violence in Chicago and in victimized Newtowns across the land, you need to call the question.
Enough talk. Time to act.
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Los Angeles Times Editorial:
If anyone had doubts that President Obama would have the political courage to propose a genuinely strong package of gun-control measures in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings -- and, frankly, we did -- he laid them to rest Wednesday. His proposals would fulfill the fondest wishes of antigun activists and organizations that have been advocating for decades for many of the same policies.
Now the only problem is getting Obama's common-sense proposals past Congress -- which is a bit like saying that the only thing preventing this pig from flying is getting it to grow wings.
The president announced 23 actions his administration will perform without congressional help, most of which are cosmetic. He will, for example, launch a national campaign promoting responsible gun ownership and provide incentives for a relative handful of schools to hire specially trained police officers.
Some of Obama's other actions will be more effective than that, notably his order to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence. The CDC has been reluctant to study the impact of guns for years because of a congressional prohibition on using funds to "advocate or promote gun control."
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.