(CNN) – Legislators reacted Wednesday to President Barack Obama's gun violence proposals, including the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban and a set of directives for his administration to accomplish.
House Speaker John Boehner
"House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations. And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
"I thank the president's task force for its thoughtful recommendations. I am committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other aspects of violence in our society early this year. The tragedy at Sandy Hook was just the latest sad reminder that we are not doing enough to protect our citizens – especially our children – from gun violence and a culture of violence, and all options should be on the table moving forward."
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California and chairman of a gun violence panel of House Democrats
"The president and our task force agree that we need a comprehensive approach to reduce and prevent gun violence. Executive action can and should be part of the process, and many of the executive actions announced today will have a positive influence on reducing gun violence. Now it's time for Congress to step up and do what needs to be done to save lives. Many of the policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing gun violence will require congressional action. During the next several weeks our task force will examine the president's proposals and the proposals of others. We will continue meeting with stakeholders on every side of this issue. And we will develop a comprehensive set of policy proposals that both respect peoples' 2nd Amendment rights and help keep our communities safe from gun violence."
National Rifle Association
"Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority. 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. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America's most valuable asset – our children. 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."
Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
"The Brady Campaign stands with the president and vice president in supporting these comprehensive policy recommendations to address gun violence. The White House has shown tremendous leadership in convening stakeholders and engaging the country in a conversation that the Brady Campaign and so many Americans have been calling for in the wake of Aurora, Newtown, and the 32 gun murders that happen every day in our country. We, at the Brady Campaign, are proud to have had the opportunity to share a comprehensive set of policy solutions with the White House Task Force and we are pleased to see our ideas reflected in the final recommendations. We will work with the Administration over the coming days to give voice to the American public who so strongly support common sense legislative policies that can immediately prevent gun violence, such as universal background checks. We also re-affirm the Brady Campaign's commitment to lead the way toward better public health and safety education programs regarding the almost 300 million guns already in the hands of mostly law-abiding citizens. I strongly believe that now it's up to us to make real change happen."
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia
"House Republicans welcome the recommendations of this task force and will consider them as the House continues to examine ways to prevent tragedies like the one in Newtown. However, good intentions do not necessarily make good laws, so as we investigate the causes and search for solutions, we must ensure that any proposed solutions will actually be meaningful in preventing the taking of innocent life and that they do not trample on the rights of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. We will take these recommendations into consideration as we continue to conduct our own inquiries into how to prevent these tragedies from happening."
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
"The Second Amendment is more than just words on paper. It's a fundamental right that ensures citizens the ability to protect themselves against the government. Unfortunately, the president seems to think that the Second Amendment can be tossed aside. Using executive action to attempt to poke holes in the Second Amendment is a power grab along the same pattern we've seen of contempt for the elected representatives of the American people. … Instead of a thoughtful, open and deliberate conversation, President Obama is attempting to institute new restrictions on a fundamental constitutional right. … One area I agree with the President on is that a Senate confirmed head of the ATF would be beneficial, but if the Justice Department leadership, including the attorney general, does its job, there should be plenty of accountability for the ATF. … To top it off, it's intellectually dishonest for the White House to argue for new programs restricting the sale of guns, when this administration deliberately allowed the illegal sale of guns to known straw purchasers. And, if the president has the authority as he claims to take these actions via executive action, why did he wait until now? … Senator Leahy and I are preparing for a Judiciary Committee hearing after the Senate returns on aspects within our jurisdiction. It's important we explore in depth all aspects of this violence. It can't be done in a week by a few members of the president's administration. We must look at mental health and other societal issues which are critical to getting to the bottom of the violence we're seeing."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York
“If you look at the combination of likelihood of passage and effectiveness of curbing gun crime, universal background checks is at the sweet spot. We’re glad the President put such emphasis on it, and we look forward to working with him on this and other proposals to make our nation safer from the scourge of gun violence.“
Gov. Dannel Malloy, D-Connecticut
"In the hours after the worst of our fears were confirmed, in the midst of the grief and sorrow over the loss of 20 innocent children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was one question on the minds of people across Connecticut and around the nation: How do we make sure this never happens again? Today the President took the critical first step toward answering that question. The common sense measures he proposed today are something that we should all be able to agree on, and I want to commend him and the Vice President for their work on this issue. I have no doubt that, state by state, we will deal with the issue of gun violence. Over the coming months, I will do everything in my power to make sure that Connecticut is a national leader in preventing gun violence. We will take steps to make sure that our gun laws are as tight as they are reasonable, that our mental health system is accessible to those that need it, and that our law enforcement personnel have all the tools they need to protect public safety, particularly in our schools. But we can't go it alone. We need leadership at the federal level, and for the first time in a long time, we have it. We will not be able to stop gun violence completely, but we can make our country and our children safer. We owe it to them, and to all those lost in Sandy Hook, Aurora and every other city that has lost someone to gun violence, to try."
Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas
"The vice president's committee was appointed in response to the tragedy at Newtown, but very few of his recommendations have anything to do with what happened there. Guns require a finger to pull the trigger. The sad young man who did that in Newtown was clearly haunted by demons and no gun law could have saved the children in Sandy Hook Elementary from his terror. There is evil prowling in the world – it shows up in our movies, video games and online fascinations, and finds its way into vulnerable hearts and minds. As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be. Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice. Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children. In fact, the piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the media, to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children, disgusts me, personally. The second amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida
"As the father of four young children, I was deeply saddened by the murder of innocent kids at Sandy Hook. In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, I expressed my hope that President Obama and our elected leaders would take a sober look at how we can prevent such heinous murders in the future. Doing so would require addressing the underlying causes of these evil acts, and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill without curtailing the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Nothing the president is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. President Obama is targeting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence. Rolling back responsible citizens' rights is not the proper response to tragedies committed by criminals and the mentally ill. 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. Guns are not the problem; criminals with evil in their hearts and mentally ill people prone to violence are. Rather than sweeping measures that make it harder for responsible, law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms, we should focus on the root causes of gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. As a strong defender of the 2nd Amendment, I will oppose the President's attempts to undermine Americans' constitutional right to bear arms."
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado
"President Obama's comprehensive plan to curb gun violence is exactly the type of multi-faceted approach we need to drive the debate on how to prevent future tragedies from occurring. I plan to study his proposal in detail and to work with Colorado gun owners, hunters, sportsmen, mental health professionals and law enforcement, among others, to plan a collaborative way forward. However, in the wake of the Aurora and Newtown shootings, one thing is clear: We need comprehensive solutions that protect our children, prevent criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining guns, and ensure responsible gun ownership consistent with the Second Amendment. I wish I could say that enforcement of our current laws has been sufficient at keeping our children safe, but that simply is not the case. For example, while Colorado has a storied tradition of gun ownership, I am not certain that owning high-capacity ammunition clips or weapons made for the battlefield are necessarily part of that heritage. I will continue to work with my colleagues and Coloradans – of all political stripes – to discuss concrete steps we can take to help prevent dangerous guns from falling into the wrong hands."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
“The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School is heartbreaking and beyond words. However, the gun control plans brought forward by President Obama fail to address the real issues and I’m confident there will be bipartisan opposition to his proposal. One bullet in the hands of a homicidal maniac is one too many. But in the case of a young mother defending her children against a home invader - a real-life event which recently occurred near Atlanta - six bullets may not be enough. Criminals aren’t going to follow legislation limiting magazine capacity. However, a limit could put law-abiding citizens at a distinct disadvantage when confronting a criminal. As for reinstating the assault weapons ban, it has already been tried and failed. Finally, when it comes to protecting our schools, I believe the best way to confront a homicidal maniac who enters a school is for them to be met by armed resistance from a trained professional.”
House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline, R-Minnesota
"The president and vice president have proposed a broad set of recommendations, which I plan to review carefully. … In the coming weeks, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will convene a hearing to examine school safety and ways to protect our children. I have reached out to Ranking Member Miller for his input, and I hope we can work together as we explore policies that will help prevent violence in our schools."
Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma
“The president is right to examine what can be done to prevent tragedies such as Sandy Hook from occurring again. I commend his effort and look forward to working with him on areas of agreement while we continue to honestly debate areas of disagreement. For instance, the president is right to take steps to strengthen mental health databases and reporting to the NICS system so we can ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of criminals or those who are a threat to themselves or others. In the hands of a deranged person, a clip size of one is one too many. ... However, as we debate these measures, we first must ensure our constitutional rights and individual liberties, including the Second Amendment right to bear arms, are protected. Instead of repeating the failed policies of the past, Congress should work on thoughtful and constitutional ways to prevent unspeakable tragedies like this from happening again. The fact that almost every public mass shooting tragedy occurs in a place where guns are prohibited shows that restricting Second Amendment rights tends to disarm everyone but the assailant. Secondly, we must acknowledge that with rights come responsibilities. Gun owners must exercise personal responsibility and do everything in their power to prevent firearms and ammunition from falling into the wrong hands. Finally, policymakers in Washington should remember that the legislative process is downstream from culture."
Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia
“All Americans want our communities to be safe places to live, learn, work and play. As we review how best to prevent mass shootings and the loss of innocent lives we should make a robust analysis of America’s mental health system a priority. A proper diagnosis and comprehensive treatment are critical to ensure we are identifying indicators of violent behavior that may lead to horrific crimes. To do otherwise would mean we continue to fail not only those afflicted with mental illness, but also their families, our communities and our nation. We know that the safe use and responsible ownership of firearms has time and time again safeguarded individual and public safety. In fact, guns are used more often to protect lives, not take lives. Steps to remove firearms from the hands of law-abiding citizens endangers those very citizens. John Adams succinctly stated that ‘our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.' As a public servant sworn to uphold that Constitution, I vow to continue to defend the freedoms it guarantees and bring focus to real problems and real solutions.”
Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho
"Despite the shameful use of children today to drive his agenda, I will carefully review the President's executive actions and his legislative proposals. Our Founding Fathers believed the right to bear arms was essential to the cause of freedom. Those same Founders also gave the executive branch the authority to enforce the laws protecting this right and our security-and this is the authority the President asserts today. I will review these proposals to ensure that the President's actions and proposals do not violate our constitutionally protected right to bear arms. I will also thoughtfully consider whether the laws we currently have on the books can be better enforced to safeguard our lives and our liberty. I have always defended the Second Amendment and will continue to do so with my heart and soul. Still, I believe our nation and the Second Amendment are strong enough to withstand an examination of ways we can protect the most vulnerable among us without harming those liberties that God has given us to make us free. I look forward to having a thoughtful, honest and straightforward discussion about these issues in the Judiciary Committee over the next few months."
Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office
"Many of the presidential actions announced today are thoughtful, and the ACLU is assessing all of the proposals that have been put forth. We have several concerns about the administration incentivizing police departments and school districts to put more police officers in schools. … We fear that neutral sounding safety policies, such as putting more cops in school will lead to the over-incarceration of school-age children, especially students of color and students with disabilities, who are disproportionately arrested and prosecuted for issues that would normally be handled by school administrators when law enforcement is introduced into schools."
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers
"The tragic events of Newtown must serve as a clarion call for immediate action to keep our communities safe from gun violence and ensure schools are the safe sanctuaries our children need to learn and grow. We applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for heeding this call for action with a series of common-sense, balanced proposals that will make our nation safer … Schools across our country are in desperate need of resources to create safe, secure and nurturing learning environments, and we are glad the president has recognized that need. Some schools, due to their remoteness or following horrendous tragedies such as the massacre in Newtown, may decide that appropriately trained police officers are necessary. Other schools may decide instead that more school guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists are needed. These decisions should be made by individual school communities following safety audits. Under no circumstances should educators have the responsibility of being armed, and schools should not become armed fortresses. The role of educators is to teach and nurture our children, not to be armed guards. In times of great tragedy, Americans have always come together to grieve, to support one another, and to act-to put aside what divides us and take collective action to heal and move our nation forward. Too many of our children have had their lives cut short and their futures denied by gun violence-in their schools and in their communities. We have a set of effective proposals and now we must find the political will to get it done."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus
"President Obama's series of gun control measures amount to an executive power grab that may please his political base but will not solve the problems at hand. He paid lip service to our fundamental constitutional rights, but took actions that disregard the 2nd Amendment and the legislative process. Representative government is meant to give voice to the people; President Obama's unilateral executive action ignores this principle. Instead, we need to work together to find real solutions – many of which do not come from the federal government – that help protect our children and communities while also being firm in protecting Americans' constitutional rights."
Stephanie Taylor, Co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee
"We applaud the White House plan to think big and take bold action against gun killings. The PCCC is all in for this fight, investing time and money in Republican and Democratic districts until Congress passes major gun legislation that includes an assault weapons ban."
Tim Makris, co-founder of the Newtown, Connecticut group Sandy Hook Promise
"Sandy Hook Promise welcomes the broad focus of the President's proposals. We appreciate his decisive action to help address through Executive Order immediate opportunities for reform, and we applaud his broader commitment to finding meaningful common sense solutions to help prevent similar acts of violence in other communities in America. Hopefully this will begin a thoughtful debate in Congress on how best to prevent future incidents of gun violence. However, a solution won't happen just in Washington. We encourage everyone, citizens and politicians, to make and uphold the Sandy Hook Promise, to engage in a constructive national dialogue on all of the important issues involved. As an organization, our purpose is to ensure that we have that dialogue and take action, not just in Washington but in our communities and our homes."