He condemned previous efforts by Congress, prodded by the gun lobby, that have effectively blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from investigating the causes of gun violence.
“We don’t benefit from ignorance. We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence,” said Obama, who also called on Congress to “fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds.”
Obama announced numerous initiatives. He said the background-check system would be strengthened by, among other steps, making it easier for states to share information about mentally ill persons who should be prohibited from owning guns. He also proposed spending for increased training in the areas of school safety and mental health.
The price tag of the package is nearly $4.5 billion, according to the White House. Most of it — $4 billion — would subsidize the cost of keeping 15,000 police on the streets, renewing a portion of an earlier Obama jobs initiative that failed to gain approval in Congress.
Foes of gun control condemned Obama’s actions, calling them an infringement of the rights of gun owners and an ineffective response to gun violence. Typical was the response of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, who said Obama “is again abusing his power by imposing his policies via executive fiat instead of allowing them to be debated in Congress.”
The NRA echoed its earlier criticisms of Obama. “Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation,” the group said in a statement. “Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”
Separately, the White House tangled with the NRA over a new video released by the gun group. It labeled Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for opposing an NRA proposal to put an armed guard in every school in the country while his two daughters are protected by the Secret Service.