Full Text Obama Presidency October 1, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Shootings at Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the Shootings at Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

6:22 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  There’s been another mass shooting in America — this time, in a community college in Oregon.

That means there are more American families — moms, dads, children — whose lives have been changed forever.  That means there’s another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children.

I’ve been to Roseburg, Oregon.  There are really good people there.  I want to thank all the first responders whose bravery likely saved some lives today.  Federal law enforcement has been on the scene in a supporting role, and we’ve offered to stay and help as much as Roseburg needs, for as long as they need.

In the coming days, we’ll learn about the victims — young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard, their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their lives.  And America will wrap everyone who’s grieving with our prayers and our love.

But as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough.  It’s not enough.  It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel.  And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.

We don’t yet know why this individual did what he did.  And it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be.  But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people.  We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

Earlier this year, I answered a question in an interview by saying, “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings.”  And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.  That day!  Somehow this has become routine.  The reporting is routine.  My response here at this podium ends up being routine.  The conversation in the aftermath of it.  We’ve become numb to this.

We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston.  It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation.  Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out:  We need more guns, they’ll argue.  Fewer gun safety laws.

Does anybody really believe that?  There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country –they know that’s not true.  We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America.  So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?  We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths.  So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings.  Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours.  So we know there are ways to prevent it.

And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue.  Well, this is something we should politicize.  It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.  I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports.  This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you.  We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so.  And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths.  How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.  We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.  When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer.  When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer.  When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities.  We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives.  So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate, I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.  And that will require a change of politics on this issue.  And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision.  If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners — who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families — to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.

And each time this happens I’m going to bring this up.  Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we’re going to have to change our laws.  And this is not something I can do by myself.  I’ve got to have a Congress and I’ve got to have state legislatures and governors who are willing to work with me on this.

I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as President to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances.  But based on my experience as President, I can’t guarantee that.  And that’s terrible to say.  And it can change.

May God bless the memories of those who were killed today.  May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back.  And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change.

Thank you.

END
6:35 P.M. EDT

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Political Headlines April 9, 2013: Clock Ticking on Gun Control Debate Amid Threat of Filibuster

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Clock Ticking on Gun Control Debate Amid Threat of Filibuster

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-9-13

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

With a filibuster threat in the air, the gun control debate takes a personal turn Tuesday on Capitol Hill as the families of the Newtown, Conn., shooting implore members of Congress to revive legislation that has stalled nearly four months after the slaying at Sandy Hook Elementary School….

“Find out where your member of Congress stands on this,” Obama said.  “If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them why not.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines April 8, 2013: President Barack Obama in Speech at the University of Hartford Demands Gun Control Vote

Obama, with Newtown Families, Demands Gun Control Vote

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-8-13

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking before families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, President Obama made an impassioned and urgent plea for stricter gun laws, as he accused Republicans of threatening to use “political stunts” to block reforms.

“This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been torn apart by gun violence,” the president told a packed crowd at the University of Hartford, just 50 miles from the site of the December shooting in Newtown, Conn. “It’s about them, and all the families going forward so we can prevent this from happening again. That’s what it’s about.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 8, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Reducing Gun Violence at the University of Hartford, Connecticut — Pushes for Gun Control Bill

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Asks Americans to Stand Up and Call for Action to Reduce Gun Violence

Source: WH, 4-8-13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on gun violencePresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on gun violence, at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn., April 8, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today President Obama traveled to Connecticut, where he told families of the children and teachers who died at Sandy Hook Elementary that we have not forgotten our promise to help prevent future tragedies and reduce gun violence in our country….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on Reducing Gun Violence — Hartford, CT

Source: WH, 4-8-13

University of Hartford
Hartford, Connecticut

5:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Connecticut.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Well, thank you so much, everybody.  Let me begin by thanking Nicole, and Ian, for your brave words.  (Applause.)  I want to thank them and all the Newtown families who have come here today, including your First Selectman, Pat Llodra.  (Applause.)  Nobody could be more eloquent than Nicole and the other families on this issue.  And we are so grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories again and again, understanding that nothing is going to be more important in making sure the Congress moves forward this week than hearing from them.

I want to thank all the educators from Sandy Hook Elementary who have come here as well — (applause) — the survivors —

AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  We love you, Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  I do.  (Applause.)

— the survivors who still mourn and grieve, but are still going to work every day to love and raise those precious children in their care as fiercely as ever.

I want to thank Governor Malloy for his leadership.  (Applause.)  Very proud of him.  I want to thank the University of Hartford for hosting us this afternoon.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Hawks.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the people of Connecticut for everything you’ve done to honor the memories of the victims — (applause) — because you’re part of their family as well.

One of your recent alumni, Rachel D’Avino, was a behavioral therapist at Sandy Hook.  Two alumni of your performing arts school, Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene, lost their daughter, Ana — an incredible, vibrant young girl who looked up to them, and learned from them, and inherited their talents by singing before she could talk.

So every family in this state was shaken by the tragedy of that morning.  Every family in this country was shaken.  We hugged our kids more tightly.  We asked what could we do, as a society, to help prevent a tragedy like that from happening again.

And as a society, we decided that we have to change.  We must.  We must change.  (Applause.)

I noticed that Nicole and others refer to that day as “12/14.”  For these families, it was a day that changed everything.  And I know many of you in Newtown wondered if the rest of us would live up to the promise we made in those dark days — if we’d change, too; or if once the television trucks left, once the candles flickered out, once the teddy bears were carefully gathered up, that the country would somehow move on to other things.

Over the weekend, I heard Francine Wheeler, who lost her son Ben that day, say that the four months since the tragedy might feel like a brief moment for some, but for her, it feels like it’s been years since she saw Ben.  And she’s determined not to let what happened that day just fade away.  “We’re not going anywhere,” she said.  “We are here.  And we are going to be here.”  And I know that she speaks for everybody in Newtown, everybody who was impacted.

And, Newtown, we want you to know that we’re here with you.  We will not walk away from the promises we’ve made.  (Applause.)  We are as determined as ever to do what must be done.  In fact, I’m here to ask you to help me show that we can get it done.  We’re not forgetting.  (Applause.)

We can’t forget.  Your families still grieve in ways most of us can’t comprehend.  But so many of you have used that grief to make a difference — not just to honor your own children, but to protect the lives of all of our children.  So many of you have mobilized, and organized, and petitioned your elected officials “with love and logic,” as Nicole put it — as citizens determined to right something gone wrong.

And last week, here in Connecticut, your elected leaders responded.  The Connecticut legislature, led by many of the legislators here today, passed new measures to protect more of our children and our communities from gun violence.  And Governor Malloy signed that legislation into law.  (Applause.)

So I want to be clear.  You, the families of Newtown, people across Connecticut, you helped make that happen.  Your voices, your determination made that happen.  Obviously, the elected leaders did an extraordinary job moving it forward, but it couldn’t have happened if they weren’t hearing from people in their respective districts, people all across the state.  That’s the power of your voice.

And, by the way, Connecticut is not alone.  In the past few months, New York, Colorado, Maryland have all passed new, common-sense gun safety reforms as well.  (Applause.)

These are all states that share an awful familiarity with gun violence, whether it’s the horror of mass killings, or the street crime that’s too common in too many neighborhoods.  All of these states also share a strong tradition of hunting, and sport shooting, and gun ownership.  It’s been a part of the fabric of people’s lives for generations.  And every single one of those states — including here in Connecticut — decided that, yes, we can protect more of our citizens from gun violence while still protecting our Second Amendment rights.  Those two things don’t contradict each other.  (Applause.)  We can pass common-sense laws that protect our kids and protect our rights.

So Connecticut has shown the way.  And now is the time for Congress to do the same.  (Applause.)  Now is the time for Congress to do the same.  This week is the time for Congress to do the same.  (Applause.)

Now, back in January, just a few months after the tragedy in Newtown, I announced a series of executive actions to reduce gun violence and keep our kids safe.  And I put forward common-sense proposals — much like those that passed here in Connecticut — for Congress to consider.  And you’ll remember in my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to give those proposals a vote.  And that moment is now.

As soon as this week, Congress will begin debating these common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence.  Your senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy — they’re here — (applause) — your Representatives, John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, Jim Hines, Joe Courtney, they are all pushing to pass this legislation.  (Applause.)  But much of Congress is going to only act if they hear from you, the American people.  So here’s what we have to do.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate that.  (Laughter.)  Here’s what we’ve got to do.  We have to tell Congress it’s time to require a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that people who are dangerous to themselves and others cannot get their hands on a gun.  Let’s make that happen.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to crack down on gun trafficking so that folks will think twice before buying a gun as part of a scheme to arm someone who won’t pass a background check.  Let’s get that done.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to restore the ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines, to make it harder for a gunman to fire 154 bullets into his victims in less than five minutes.  Let’s put that to a vote.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen school safety and help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment they need before it’s too late.  Let’s do that for our kids and for our communities.  (Applause.)

Now, I know that some of these proposals inspire more debate than others, but each of them has the support of the majority of the American people.  All of them are common sense.  All of them deserve a vote.  All of them deserve a vote.  (Applause.)

Consider background checks.  Over the past 20 years, background checks have kept more than 2 million dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun.  A group of police officers in Colorado told me last week that, thanks to background checks, they’ve been able to stop convicted murderers, folks under restraining orders for committing violent domestic abuse from buying a gun.  In some cases, they’ve actually arrested the person as they were coming to purchase the gun.

So we know that background checks can work.  But the problem is loopholes in the current law let so many people avoid background checks altogether.  That’s not safe.  It doesn’t make sense.  If you’re a law-abiding citizen and you go through a background check to buy a gun, wouldn’t you expect other people to play by the same rules?  (Applause.)

If you’re a law-abiding gun seller, wouldn’t you want to know you’re not selling your gun to someone who’s likely to commit a crime?  (Applause.)  Shouldn’t we make it harder, not easier for somebody who is convicted of domestic abuse to get his hands on a gun?  (Applause.)

It turns out 90 percent of Americans think so.  Ninety percent of Americans support universal background checks.  Think about that.  How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?  (Laughter.)  And yet, 90 percent agree on this — Republicans, Democrats, folks who own guns, folks who don’t own guns; 80 percent of Republicans, more than 80 percent of gun owners, more than 70 percent of NRA households.  It is common sense.

And yet, there is only one thing that can stand in the way of change that just about everybody agrees on, and that’s politics in Washington.  You would think that with those numbers Congress would rush to make this happen.  That’s what you would think.  (Applause.)  If our democracy is working the way it’s supposed to, and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy you’d think this would not be a heavy lift.

And yet, some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms.  Think about that.  They’re not just saying they’ll vote “no” on ideas that almost all Americans support.  They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions.  They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter.  And that’s not right.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  That is not right.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  We need a vote.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  We need a vote.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I’ve also heard some in the Washington press suggest that what happens to gun violence legislation in Congress this week will either be a political victory or defeat for me.  Connecticut, this is not about me.  This is not about politics.  This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been torn apart by gun violence.  (Applause.)  It’s about them and all the families going forward, so we can prevent this from happening again.  That’s what it’s about.  It’s about the law enforcement officials putting their lives at risk.  That’s what this is about.  This is not about politics.  (Applause.)  This is not about politics.

This is about these families and families all across the country who are saying let’s make it a little harder for our kids to get gunned down.

When I said in my State of the Union address that these proposals deserve a vote — that families of Newtown, and Aurora, and Tucson, and a former member of Congress, Gabby Giffords, that they all deserved a vote -– virtually every member of that chamber stood up and applauded.  And now they’re going to start denying your families a vote when the cameras are off and when the lobbyists have worked what they do?  You deserve better than that.  You deserve a vote.

Now, look, we knew from the beginning of this debate that change would not be easy.  We knew that there would be powerful interests that are very good at confusing the subject, that are good at amplifying conflict and extremes, that are good at drowning out rational debate, good at ginning up irrational fears, all of which stands in the way of progress.

But if our history teaches us anything, then it’s up to us –- the people -– to stand up to those who say we can’t, or we won’t; stand up for the change that we need.  And I believe that that’s what the American people are looking for.

When I first ran for this office, I said that I did not believe the country was as divided as our politics would suggest, and I still believe that.  (Applause.)  I know sometimes, when you watch cable news or talk radio, or you browse the Internet, you’d think, man, everybody just hates each other, everybody is just at each other’s throats.  But that’s not how most Americans think about these issues.  There are good people on both sides of every issue.

So if we’re going to move forward, we can’t just talk past one another.  We’ve got to listen to one another.  That’s what Governor Malloy and all these legislative leaders did.  That’s why they were able to pass bipartisan legislation.  (Applause.)

I’ve got stacks of letters from gun owners who want me to know that they care passionately about their right to bear arms, don’t want them infringed upon, and I appreciate every one of those letters.  I’ve learned from them.  But a lot of those letters, what they’ve also said is they’re not just gun owners; they’re also parents or police officers or veterans, and they agree that we can’t stand by and keep letting these tragedies happen; that with our rights come some responsibilities and obligations to our communities and ourselves, and most of all to our children.  We can’t just think about “us” –- we’ve got to think about “we, the people.”

I was in Colorado.  I told a story about Michelle.  She came back from a trip to rural Iowa; we were out there campaigning.  Sometimes it would be miles between farms, let alone towns.  And she said, you know, coming back, I can understand why somebody would want a gun for protection.  If somebody drove up into the driveway and, Barack, you weren’t home, the sheriff lived miles away, I might want that security.  So she can understand what it might be like in terms of somebody wanting that kind of security.

On the other hand, I also talked to a hunter last week who said, all my experiences with guns have been positive, but I also realize that for others, all their experiences with guns have been negative.

And when he said that, I thought about the mom I met from suburban Chicago whose son was killed in a random shooting.  And this mom told me, I hate it when people tell me that my son was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was on his way to school.  He was exactly where he was supposed to be.  He was in the right place at the right time, and he still got shot.  (Applause.)

The kids at Sandy Hook were where they were supposed to be.  So were those moviegoers in Aurora.  So were those worshippers in Oak Creek.  So was Gabby Giffords.  She was at a supermarket, listening to the concerns of her constituents.  (Applause.)  They were exactly where they were supposed to be.  They were also exercising their rights — to assemble peaceably; to worship freely and safely.  They were exercising the rights of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  So surely, we can reconcile those two things.  Surely, America doesn’t have to be divided between rural and urban, and Democrat and Republican when it comes to something like this.

If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families here have known, then we have to act.  Now is the time to get engaged.  Now is the time to get involved.  Now is the time to push back on fear, and frustration, and misinformation.  Now is the time for everybody to make their voices heard from every state house to the corridors of Congress.

And I’m asking everyone listening today, find out where your member of Congress stands on this.  If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them, why not?  Why wouldn’t you want to make it easier for law enforcement to do their job?  Why wouldn’t you want to make it harder for a dangerous person to get his or her hands on a gun?  What’s more important to you:  our children, or an A-grade from the gun lobby?  (Applause.)

I’ve heard Nicole talk about what her life has been like since Dylan was taken from her in December.  And one thing she said struck me.  She said, “Every night, I beg for him to come to me in my dreams so that I can see him again.  And during the day, I just focus on what I need to do to honor him and make change.”  Now, if Nicole can summon the courage to do that, how can the rest of us do any less?  (Applause.)  How can we do any less?

If there is even one thing we can do to protect our kids, don’t we have an obligation to try?  If there is even one step we can take to keep somebody from murdering dozens of innocents in the span of minutes, shouldn’t we be taking that step?  (Applause.)  If there is just one thing we can do to keep one father from having to bury his child, isn’t that worth fighting for?

I’ve got to tell you, I’ve had tough days in the presidency — I’ve said this before.  The day Newtown happened was the toughest day of my presidency.  But I’ve got to tell you, if we don’t respond to this, that will be a tough day for me, too.  (Applause.)  Because we’ve got to expect more from ourselves, and we’ve got to expect more from Congress.  We’ve got to believe that every once in a while, we set politics aside and we just do what’s right.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to believe that.

And if you believe that, I’m asking you to stand up.  (Applause.)  If you believe in the right to bears arms, like I do, but think we should prevent an irresponsible few from inflicting harm — stand up.  Stand up.  (Applause.)

If you believe that the families of Newtown and Aurora and Tucson and Virginia Tech and the thousands of Americans who have been gunned down in the last four months deserve a vote, we all have to stand up.  (Applause.)

If you want the people you send to Washington to have just an iota of the courage that the educators at Sandy Hook showed when danger arrived on their doorstep, then we’re all going to have to stand up.

And if we do, if we come together and raise our voices together and demand this change together, I’m convinced cooperation and common sense will prevail.  We will find sensible, intelligent ways to make this country stronger and safer for our children.  (Applause.)

So let’s do the right thing.  Let’s do right by our kids.  Let’s do right by these families.  Let’s get this done.  Connecticut, thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END                6:13 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines March 28, 2013: President Obama Renews Plea on Gun Control: ‘I Haven’t Forgotten’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Renews Plea on Gun Control: ‘I Haven’t Forgotten’

Source: NYT, 3-28-13

President Obama hugged a group of mothers who were victims of gun violence as he urged Congress to pass measures aimed at preventing it during an event in the East Room of the White House.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama hugged a group of mothers who were victims of gun violence as he urged Congress to pass measures aimed at preventing it during an event in the East Room of the White House.

Standing with shooting victims’ mothers, President Obama scolded lawmakers for not embracing proposals he put forward after the Sandy Hook massacre….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 28, 2013: President Barack Obama on Gun Violence: ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-28-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Obama on Thursday vowed that the children killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School will not be forgotten as he made a plea for Congress to take action against gun violence.

“The entire country was shocked, and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different,” the president said as he stood in the East Room of the White House with 21 mothers working to combat gun violence in America….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Gun Violence & Safety & Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence — ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: We Have Not Forgotten What Happened in Newtown

Source: WH, 3-28-13

Today, President Obama promised the American people that he had not forgotten the 20 innocent chidlren and six brave educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary more than 100 days ago. Standing with parents and teachers of gun violence victims, he urged Congress to take action that will protect other children and families from the pain and grief these families have experienced….READ MORE

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks on gun safetyPresident Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks on gun safety in the East Room of the White House, March 28, 2013. Mothers who have lost children to gun violence join them on stage. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by the President on Gun Safety

President Obama Speaks on Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence

President Obama Speaks on Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence

Source: WH, 3-28-13 

East Room

11:58 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you, Katerina, for sharing your story.  Reema was lucky to have you as a teacher, and all of us are fortunate to have you here today.  And I’m glad we had a chance to remember her.

Katerina, as you just heard, lost one of her most promising students in Virginia Tech, the shootings there that took place six years ago.  And she and dozens of other moms and dads, all victims of gun violence, have come here today from across the country — united not only in grief and loss, but also in resolve, and in courage, and in a deep determination to do whatever they can, as parents and as citizens to protect other kids and spare other families from the awful pain that they have endured.

As any of the families and friends who are here today can tell you, the grief doesn’t ever go away.  That loss, that pain sticks with you.  It lingers on in places like Blacksburg and Tucson and Aurora.  That anguish is still fresh in Newtown.  It’s been barely 100 days since 20 innocent children and six brave educators were taken from us by gun violence — including Grace McDonnell and Lauren Rousseau and Jesse Lewis, whose families are here today.

That agony burns deep in the families of thousands — thousands of Americans who have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun over these last 100 days — including Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed on her way to school less than two months ago, and whose mom is also here today.  Everything they lived for and hoped for, taken away in an instant.  We have moms on this stage whose children were killed as recently as 35 days ago.

I don’t think any of us who are parents can hear their stories and not think about our own daughters and our own sons and our own grandchildren.  We all feel that it is our first impulse, as parents, to do everything we can to protect our children from harm; to make any sacrifice to keep them safe; to do what we have to do to give them a future where they can grow up and learn and explore, and become the amazing people they’re destined to be.

That’s why, in January, Joe Biden, leading a task force, came up with, and I put forward, a series of common-sense proposals to reduce the epidemic of gun violence and keep our kids safe.  In my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to give these proposals a vote.  And in just a couple of weeks, they will.

Earlier this month, the Senate advanced some of the most important reforms designed to reduce gun violence.  All of them are consistent with the Second Amendment.  None of them will infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.  What they will do is keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who put others at risk.  And this is our best chance in more than a decade to take common-sense steps that will save lives.

As I said when I visited Newtown just over three months ago, if there is a step we can take that will save just one child, just one parent, just another town from experiencing the same grief that some of the moms and dads who are here have endured, then we should be doing it.  We have an obligation to try.

Now, in the coming weeks, members of Congress will vote on whether we should require universal background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that criminals or people with severe mental illnesses can’t get their hands on one.  They’ll vote on tough new penalties for anyone who buys guns only to turn around and sell them to criminals.  They’ll vote on a measure that would keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate these mass killings off our streets.  They’ll get to vote on legislation that would help schools become safer and help people struggling with mental health problems to get the treatment that they need.

None of these ideas should be controversial.  Why wouldn’t we want to make it more difficult for a dangerous person to get his or her hand on a gun?  Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check?  Why wouldn’t we do that?

And if you ask most Americans outside of Washington — including many gun owners — some of these ideas, they don’t consider them controversial.  Right now, 90 percent of Americans — 90 percent — support background checks that will keep criminals and people who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others from buying a gun.  More than 80 percent of Republicans agree.  More than 80 percent of gun owners agree.  Think about that.  How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?  (Laughter.)  It never happens.

Many other reforms are supported by clear majorities of Americans.  And I ask every American to find out where your member of Congress stands on these ideas.  If they’re not part of that 90 percent who agree that we should make it harder for a criminal or somebody with a severe mental illness to buy a gun, then you should ask them, why not?  Why are you part of the 10 percent?

There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get this done.  But the reason we’re talking about here today is because it’s not done until it’s done.  And there are some powerful voices on the other side that are interested in running out the clock or changing the subject or drowning out the majority of the American people to prevent any of these reforms from happening at all.  They’re doing everything they can to make all our progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration, or their assumption is that people will just forget about it.

I read an article in the news just the other day wondering is Washington — has Washington missed its opportunity, because as time goes on after Newtown, somehow people start moving on and forgetting.  Let me tell you, the people here, they don’t forget.  Grace’s dad is not forgetting.  Hadiya’s mom hasn’t forgotten.  The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we’ve moved on to other things, that’s not who we are.  That’s not who we are.

And I want to make sure every American is listening today.  Less than 100 days ago that happened, and the entire country was shocked.  And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different.  Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.  I haven’t forgotten those kids.  Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.

If there’s one thing I’ve said consistently since I first ran for this office:  Nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change.  And that’s why it’s so important that all these moms and dads are here today.  But that’s also why it’s important that we’ve got grassroots groups out there that got started and are out there mobilizing and organizing and keeping up the fight.  That’s what it’s going to take to make this country safer.  It’s going to take moms and dads, and hunters and sportsmen, and clergy and local officials like the mayors who are here today standing up and saying, this time really is different — that we’re not just going to sit back and wait until the next Newtown or the next Blacksburg or the next innocent, beautiful child who is gunned down in a playground in Chicago or Philadelphia or Los Angeles before we summon the will to act.

Right now, members of Congress are back home in their districts, and many of them are holding events where they can hear from their constituents.  So I want everybody who is listening to make yourself heard right now.

If you think that checking someone’s criminal record before he can check out a gun show is common sense, you’ve got to make yourself heard.  If you’re a responsible, law-abiding gun owner who wants to keep irresponsible, law-breaking individuals from abusing the right to bear arms by inflicting harm on a massive scale, speak up.  We need your voices in this debate.  If you’re a mom like Katerina who wants to make this country safer, a stronger place for our children to learn and grow up, get together with other moms like the ones here today and raise your voices and make yourselves unmistakably heard.

We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn’t just a bunch of platitudes — that we meant it.

The desire to make a difference is what brought Corey Thornblad here today.  Corey grew up in Oklahoma, where her dad sold firearms at gun shows.  And today, she’s a mom and a teacher.  And Corey said that after Newtown, she cried for days — for the students who could have been her students; for the parents she could have known; for the teachers like her who go to work every single day and love their kids and want them to succeed.  And Corey says, “My heart was broken.  And I decided now was the time to act, to march, the time to petition, the time to make phone calls, because tears were no longer enough.”  And that’s my attitude.

Tears aren’t enough.  Expressions of sympathy aren’t enough.  Speeches aren’t enough.  We’ve cried enough.  We’ve known enough heartbreak.  What we’re proposing is not radical, it’s not taking away anybody’s gun rights.  It’s something that if we are serious, we will do.

Now is the time to turn that heartbreak into something real.  It won’t solve every problem.  There will still be gun deaths.  There will still be tragedies.  There will still be violence.  There will still be evil.  But we can make a difference if not just the activists here on this stage but the general public — including responsible gun owners — say, you know what, we can do better than this.  We can do better to make sure that fewer parents have to endure the pain of losing a child to an act of violence.

That’s what this is about.  And if enough people like Katerina and Corey and the rest of the parents who are here today get involved, and if enough members of Congress take a stand for cooperation and common sense, and lead, and don’t get squishy because time has passed and maybe it’s not on the news every single day — if that’s who we are, if that’s our character that we’re willing to follow through on commitments that we say are important — commitments to each other and to our kids — then I’m confident we can make this country a safer place for all of them.

So thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
12:13 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency February 15, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Strengthening the Economy For The Middle Class & Gun Violence at Hyde Park Career Academy Chicago, Illinois

Giving Every Child a Chance in Life

Source: WH, 2-15-13

President Obama at the Hyde Park Career Academy Chicago, Illinois, Feb. 15, 2013President Barack Obama delivers remarks to discuss proposals unveiled in the State of the Union Address that focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and those striving to get there, at Hyde Park Academy, Chicago, Ill., Feb. 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama was in Chicago on Friday to talk about the importance of making sure every child in America has every chance in life to succeed. Speaking at the Hyde Park Career Academy, which is less than a mile from the Obama’s home in that city, the President discussed the recent death of Hadiyah Pendleton, a Chicago teenager who was shot just days after attending the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC.

Hadiyah’s parents were guests of First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address on Tuesday, where President Obama discussed the need to prevent this kind of senseless violence and protect American children. But the important goal of  keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is not enough to ensure a bright future for all of our children, and the President also laid out a plan to rebuild ladders of opportunity for every American who is willing to work hard and climb them. This includes making sure every child in America has access to high-quality pre-K, and raising the minimum wage so that no family that works hard and relies on a minimum wage is living in poverty. But creating a path into the middle class also means transforming high-poverty communities into places of opportunity that can attract private investment, improve education, and create jobs, and President Obama talked about his plan to make that happen:

And that’s why on Tuesday I announced — and that’s part of what I want to focus on here in Chicago and across the country — is my intention to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit communities in America to get them back in the game — get them back in the game.

First, we’ll work with local leaders to cut through red tape and improve things like public safety and education and housing. And we’ll bring all the resources to bear in a coordinated fashion so that we can get that tipping point where suddenly a community starts feeling like things are changing and we can come back.

Second of all, if you’re willing to play a role in a child’s education, then we’ll help you reform your schools. We want to seed more and more partnerships of the kind that Rahm is trying to set up.

Third, we’re going to help bring jobs and growth to hard-hit neighborhoods by giving tax breaks to business owners who invest and hire in those neighborhoods.

Fourth, and specific to the issue of violence — because it’s very hard to develop economically if people don’t feel safe. If they don’t feel like they can walk down the street and shop at a store without getting hit over head or worse, then commerce dries up, businesses don’t want to locate, families move out, you get into the wrong cycle. So we’re going to target neighborhoods struggling to deal with violent crime and help them reduce that violence in ways that have been proven to work. And I know this is a priority of your Mayor’s; it’s going to be a priority of mine.

And finally, we’re going to keep working in communities all across the country, including here in Chicago, to replace run-down public housing that doesn’t offer much hope or safety with new, healthy homes for low- and moderate-income families.


Learn more about President Obama’s plan for a strong middle class and a strong America:

Remarks By The President On Strengthening The Economy For The Middle Class

Hyde Park Career Academy Chicago, Illinois

3:31 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Chicago! (Applause.) Hello, Chicago! Hello, everybody. Hello, Hyde Park! (Applause.) It is good to be home! It is good to be home. Everybody have a seat. You all relax. It’s just me. You all know me. It is good to be back home.

A couple of people I want to acknowledge — first of all, I want to thank your Mayor, my great friend, Rahm Emanuel for his outstanding leadership of the city and his kind introduction. (Applause.) I want to thank everybody here at Hyde Park Academy for welcoming me here today. (Applause.)

I want to acknowledge your principal and your assistant principal — although, they really make me feel old, because when I saw them — (laughter) — where are they? Where are they? Stand up. Stand up. (Applause.) They are doing outstanding work. We’re very, very proud them. But you do make me feel old. Sit down. (Laughter.)

A couple other people I want to acknowledge — Governor Pat Quinn is here doing great work down in Springfield. (Applause.) My great friend and senior Senator Dick Durbin is in the house. (Applause.) Congressman Bobby Rush is here. (Applause.) We’re in his district. Attorney General and former seatmate of mine when I was in the state senate, Lisa Madigan. (Applause.) County Board President — used to be my alderwoman — Tony Preckwinkle in the house. (Applause.)

And I’ve got — I see a lot of reverend clergy here, but I’m not going to mention them, because if I miss one I’m in trouble. (Laughter.) They’re all friends of mine. They’ve been knowing me.

Some people may not know this, but obviously, this is my old neighborhood. I used to teach right around the corner. This is where Michelle and I met, where we fell in love —

AUDIENCE: Aww —

THE PRESIDENT: This is where we raised our daughters, in a house just about a mile away from here — less than a mile. And that’s really what I’ve come here to talk about today — raising our kids.

AUDIENCE: We love you!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you, too. (Applause.) I love you, too.

I’m here to make sure that we talk about and then work towards giving every child every chance in life; building stronger communities and new ladders of opportunity that they can climb into the middle class and beyond; and, most importantly, keeping them safe from harm.

Michelle was born and raised here — a proud daughter of the South Side. (Applause.) Last weekend, she came home, but it was to attend the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton. And Hadiya’s parents, by the way, are here — and I want to just acknowledge them. They are just wonderful, wonderful people. (Applause.)

And as you know, this week, in my State of the Union, I talked about Hadiya on Tuesday night and the fact that unfortunately what happened to Hadiya is not unique. It’s not unique to Chicago. It’s not unique to this country. Too many of our children are being taken away from us.

Two months ago, America mourned 26 innocent first-graders and their educators in Newtown. And today, I had the high honor of giving the highest civilian award I can give to the parent — or the families of the educators who had been killed in Newtown. And there was something profound and uniquely heartbreaking and tragic, obviously, about a group of 6-year-olds being killed. But last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city, and 65 of those victims were 18 and under. So that’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months.

And that’s precisely why the overwhelming majority of Americans are asking for some common-sense proposals to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. And as I said on Tuesday night, I recognize not everybody agrees with every issue. There are regional differences. The experience of gun ownership is different in urban areas than it is in rural areas, different from upstate and downstate Illinois. But these proposals deserve a vote in Congress. They deserve a vote. (Applause.) They deserve a vote. And I want to thank those members of Congress who are working together in a serious way to try to address this issue.

But I’ve also said no law or set of laws can prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. When a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill — only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole. In too many neighborhoods today — whether here in Chicago or the farthest reaches of rural America — it can feel like for a lot of young people the future only extends to the next street corner or the outskirts of town; that no matter how much you work or how hard you try, your destiny was determined the moment you were born. There are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding. And for a lot of young boys and young men, in particular, they don’t see an example of fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families and be held up and respected.

And so that means that this is not just a gun issue. It’s also an issue of the kinds of communities that we’re building. And for that, we all share a responsibility, as citizens, to fix it. We all share a responsibility to move this country closer to our founding vision that no matter who you are, or where you come from, here in America, you can decide your own destiny. You can succeed if you work hard and fulfill your responsibilities. (Applause.)

Now, that means we’ve got to grow our economy and create more good jobs. It means we’ve got to equip every American with the skills and the training to fill those jobs. And it means we’ve got to rebuild ladders of opportunity for everybody willing to climb them.

Now, that starts at home. There’s no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families — which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood. (Applause.) Don’t get me wrong — as the son of a single mom, who gave everything she had to raise me with the help of my grandparents, I turned out okay. (Applause and laughter.) But — no, no, but I think it’s — so we’ve got single moms out here, they’re heroic in what they’re doing and we are so proud of them. (Applause.) But at the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved. Loving, supportive parents — and, by the way, that’s all kinds of parents — that includes foster parents, and that includes grandparents, and extended families; it includes gay or straight parents. (Applause.)

Those parents supporting kids — that’s the single most important thing. Unconditional love for your child — that makes a difference. If a child grows up with parents who have work, and have some education, and can be role models, and can teach integrity and responsibility, and discipline and delayed gratification — all those things give a child the kind of foundation that allows them to say, my future, I can make it what I want. And we’ve got to make sure that every child has that, and in some cases, we may have to fill the gap and the void if children don’t have that.

So we should encourage marriage by removing the financial disincentives for couples who love one another but may find it financially disadvantageous if they get married. We should reform our child support laws to get more men working and engaged with their children. (Applause.) And my administration will continue to work with the faith community and the private sector this year on a campaign to encourage strong parenting and fatherhood. Because what makes you a man is not the ability to make a child, it’s the courage to raise one. (Applause.)

We also know, though, that there is no surer path to success in the middle class than a good education. And what we now know is that that has to begin in the earliest years. Study after study shows that the earlier a child starts learning, the more likely they are to succeed — the more likely they are to do well at Hyde Park Academy; the more likely they are to graduate; the more likely they are to get a good job; the more likely they are to form stable families and then be able to raise children themselves who get off to a good start.

Chicago already has a competition, thanks to what the Mayor is doing, that rewards the best preschools in the city — so Rahm has already prioritized this. But what I’ve also done is say, let’s give every child across America access to high-quality, public preschool. Every child, not just some. (Applause.) Every dollar we put into early childhood education can save $7 down the road by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, reducing violent crime, reducing the welfare rolls, making sure that folks who have work, now they’re paying taxes. All this stuff pays back huge dividends if we make the investment. So let’s make this happen. Let’s make sure every child has the chance they deserve. (Applause.)

As kids go through school, we’ll recruit new math and science teachers to make sure that they’ve got the skills that the future demands. We’ll help more young people in low-income neighborhoods get summer jobs. We’ll redesign our high schools and encourage our kids to stay in high school, so that the diploma they get leads directly to a good job once they graduate. (Applause.)

Right here in Chicago, five new high schools have partnered with companies and community colleges to prepare our kids with the skills that businesses are looking for right now. And your College to Careers program helps community college students get access to the same kinds of real-world experiences. So we know what works. Let’s just do it in more places. Let’s reach more young people. Let’s give more kids a chance.

So we know how important families are. We know how important education is. We recognize that government alone can’t solve these problems of violence and poverty, that everybody has to be involved. But we also have to remember that the broader economic environment of communities is critical as well. For example, we need to make sure that folks who are working now, often in the hardest jobs, see their work rewarded with wages that allow them to raise a family without falling into poverty. (Applause.)

Today, a family with two kids that works hard and relies on a minimum wage salary still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong, and we should fix it. We should reward an honest day’s work with honest wages. And that’s why we should raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour and make it a wage you can live on. (Applause.)

And even though some cities have bounced back pretty quickly from the recession, we know that there are communities and neighborhoods within cities or in small towns that haven’t bounced back. Cities like Chicago are ringed with former factory towns that never came back all the way from plants packing up; there are pockets of poverty where young adults are still looking for their first job.

And that’s why on Tuesday I announced — and that’s part of what I want to focus on here in Chicago and across the country — is my intention to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit communities in America to get them back in the game — get them back in the game. (Applause.)

First, we’ll work with local leaders to cut through red tape and improve things like public safety and education and housing. And we’ll bring all the resources to bear in a coordinated fashion so that we can get that tipping point where suddenly a community starts feeling like things are changing and we can come back.

Second of all, if you’re willing to play a role in a child’s education, then we’ll help you reform your schools. We want to seed more and more partnerships of the kind that Rahm is trying to set up.

Third, we’re going to help bring jobs and growth to hard-hit neighborhoods by giving tax breaks to business owners who invest and hire in those neighborhoods. (Applause.)

Fourth, and specific to the issue of violence — because it’s very hard to develop economically if people don’t feel safe. If they don’t feel like they can walk down the street and shop at a store without getting hit over head or worse, then commerce dries up, businesses don’t want to locate, families move out, you get into the wrong cycle. So we’re going to target neighborhoods struggling to deal with violent crime and help them reduce that violence in ways that have been proven to work. And I know this is a priority of your Mayor’s; it’s going to be a priority of mine. (Applause.)

And finally, we’re going to keep working in communities all across the country, including here in Chicago, to replace run-down public housing that doesn’t offer much hope or safety with new, healthy homes for low- and moderate-income families. (Applause.)

And here in Woodlawn, you’ve seen some of the progress that we can make when we come together to rebuild our neighborhoods, and attract new businesses, and improve our schools. Woodlawn is not all the way where it needs to be, but thanks to wonderful institutions like Apostolic Church, we’ve made great progress. (Applause.)

So we want to help more communities follow your example. And let’s go even farther by offering incentives to companies that hire unemployed Americans who have got what it takes to fill a job opening, but they may have been out of work so long that nobody is willing to give them a chance right now. Let’s put our people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in need of repair. Young people can get experience — apprenticeships, learn a trade. And we’re removing blight from our community. (Applause.)

If we gather together what works, we can extend more ladders of opportunity for anybody who’s working to build a strong, middle-class life for themselves. Because in America, your destiny shouldn’t be determined by where you live, where you were born. It should be determined by how big you’re willing to dream, how much effort and sweat and tears you’re willing to put in to realizing that dream.

When I first moved to Chicago — before any of the students in this room were born — (laughter) — and a whole lot of people who are in the audience remember me from those days, I lived in a community on the South Side right up the block, but I also worked further south where communities had been devastated by some of the steel plants closing. And my job was to work with churches and laypeople and local leaders to rebuild neighborhoods, and improve schools, and help young people who felt like they had nowhere to turn.

And those of you who worked with me, Reverend Love, you remember, it wasn’t easy. Progress didn’t come quickly. Sometimes I got so discouraged I thought about just giving up. But what kept me going was the belief that with enough determination and effort and persistence and perseverance, change is always possible; that we may not be able to help everybody, but if we help a few then that propels progress forward. We may not be able to save every child from gun violence, but if we save a few, that starts changing the atmosphere in our communities. (Applause.) We may not be able to get everybody a job right away, but if we get a few folks a job, then everybody starts feeling a little more hopeful and a little more encouraged. (Applause.) Neighborhood by neighborhood, one block by one block, one family at a time.

Now, this is what I had a chance to talk about when I met with some young men from Hyde Park Academy who were participating in this B.A.M. program. Where are the guys I talked to? Stand up you all, so we can all see you guys. (Applause.) So these are some — these are all some exceptional young men, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. And the reason I’m proud of them is because a lot of them have had some issues. That’s part of the reason why you guys are in the program. (Laughter.)

But what I explained to them was I had issues too when I was their age. I just had an environment that was a little more forgiving. So when I screwed up, the consequences weren’t as high as when kids on the South Side screw up. (Applause.) So I had more of a safety net. But these guys are no different than me, and we had that conversation about what does it take to change. And the same thing that it takes for us individually to change, I said to them, well, that’s what it takes for communities to change. That’s what it takes for countries to change. It’s not easy.

But it does require us, first of all, having a vision about where we want to be. It requires us recognizing that it will be hard work getting there. It requires us being able to overcome and persevere in the face of roadblocks and disappointments and failures. It requires us reflecting internally about who we are and what we believe in, and facing up to our own fears and insecurities, and admitting when we’re wrong. And that same thing that we have to do in our individual lives that these guys talked about, that’s what we have to do for our communities. And it will not be easy, but it can be done.

When Hadiya Pendleton and her classmates visited Washington three weeks ago, they spent time visiting the monuments — including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial just off the National Mall. And that memorial stands as a tribute to everything Dr. King achieved in his lifetime. But it also reminds us of how hard that work was and how many disappointments he experienced. He was here in Chicago fighting poverty, and just like a lot of us, there were times where he felt like he was losing hope. So in some ways, that memorial is a testament not to work that’s completed, but it’s a testament to the work that remains unfinished.

His goal was to free us not only from the shackles of discrimination, but from the shadow of poverty that haunts too many of our communities, the self-destructive impulses, and the mindless violence that claims so many lives of so many innocent young people.

These are difficult challenges. No solution we offer will be perfect. But perfection has never been our goal. Our goal has been to try and make whatever difference we can. Our goal has been to engage in the hard but necessary work of bringing America one step closer to the nation we know we can be.

If we do that, if we’re striving with every fiber of our being to strengthen our middle class, to extend ladders of opportunity for everybody who is trying as hard as they can to create a better life for themselves; if we do everything in our power to keep our children safe from harm; if we’re fulfilling our obligations to one another and to future generations; if we make that effort, then I’m confident — I’m confident that we will write the next great chapter in our American story. I’m not going to be able to do it by myself, though. Nobody can. We’re going to have to do it together.

Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END        3:58 P.M. CST

Political Headlines February 15, 2013: President Barack Obama in Chicago today to address economy, violence

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama in Chicago today to address economy, violence

Source: Chicago Tribune, 2-15-13

President Barack Obama comes to Chicago today to talk about helping struggling families and also touch on the wide-ranging approach he thinks the country should take to fighting gun violence….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 4, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Preventing Gun Violence & on Gun Control in Minneapolis, Minnesota

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Preventing Gun Violence in Minneapolis, MN

Source:  WH, 2-4-13

Special Operations Center
Minneapolis Police Department
Minneapolis, Minnesota

1:46 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Have a seat.

Well, it is good to be back in Minnesota.  (Applause.)  It is good to be back.  Although I was commenting that they don’t really have winter in Washington, D.C.  (Laughter.)  So I’ve gotten soft over these last four years.  When I was in Chicago, this was nothing.  Now it’s something.  (Laughter.)  But I’m grateful for all of you being here today.  I want to thank Chief Harteau and the entire Minneapolis Police Department for having me here today.

There are a number of other people that I just want to acknowledge here.  First of all, a wonderful man and one of America’s greatest public servants is here — Walter Mondale, former Vice President.  (Applause.)  Your outstanding Governor, Mark Dayton, is here.  (Applause.)  Two great Mayors — Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis, and Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul.  (Applause.)  And your outstanding congressional delegation — Senator Amy Klobuchar — (applause) — Senator Al Franken —  (applause) — Representative Keith Ellison — (applause) — and Representative Betty McCullough.  (Applause.)

And I should acknowledge my outstanding Attorney General — what’s your name again?  (Laughter.)  He does a great job every single day, and I could not be prouder of Eric Holder for his leadership on this issue in particular.  (Applause.)

Now, I just had a chance to sit down with some local police officers but also community leaders, as well as folks who themselves had been victims or whose families had been victims of gun violence, to hear their ideas about how we can protect our kids and address the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.  Because if we’re serious about preventing the kinds of tragedies that happened in Newtown, or the tragedies that happen every day in places like Chicago or Philadelphia or Minneapolis, then law enforcement and other community leaders must have a seat at the table.

All the folks standing here behind me today, they’re the ones on the front line of this fight.  They see the awful consequences — the lives lost, the families shattered.  They know what works, they know what doesn’t work, and they know how to get things done without regard for politics.

So we’ve had a very productive discussion.  And one of the things that struck me was that even though those who were sitting around that table represented very different communities, from big cities to small towns, they all believe it’s time to take some basic, common-sense steps to reduce gun violence.  We may not be able to prevent every massacre or random shooting.  No law or set of laws can keep our children completely safe.  But if there’s even one thing we can do, if there’s just one life we can save, we’ve got an obligation to try.

That’s been the philosophy here in Minneapolis.  A few years back, you suffered a spike in violent crime involving young people.  So this city came together.  You launched a series of youth initiatives that have reduced the number of young people injured by guns by 40 percent — 40 percent.  So when it comes to protecting our children from gun violence, you’ve shown that progress is possible.  We’ve still got to deal with the 60 percent that remains, but that 40 percent means lives saved — parents whose hearts aren’t broken, communities that aren’t terrorized and afraid.

We don’t have to agree on everything to agree it’s time to do something.  (Applause.)  That’s my main message here today.

And each of us has a role to play.  A few weeks ago, I took action on my own to strengthen background checks, to help schools get more resource officers if they want them, and to direct the Centers for Disease Control to study the causes of violence.  Because for a long time, even looking at the evidence was considered somehow tough politics.  And so Congress had taken the approach that, we don’t want to know.  Well, that’s never the answer to a problem — is not wanting to know what is going on.

So we’ve been able to take some steps through administrative action.  But while these steps are important, real and lasting change also requires Congress to do its part and to do it soon, not to wait.  The good news is that we’re starting to see a consensus emerge about the action Congress needs to take.

The vast majority of Americans — including a majority of gun owners — support requiring criminal background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun.  (Applause.)  So right now, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are working on a bill that would ban anyone from selling a gun to somebody legally prohibited from owning one.  That’s common sense.  There’s no reason we can’t get that done.  That is not a liberal idea or a conservative idea; it’s not a Democratic or Republican idea — that is a smart idea. We want to keep those guns out of hands of folks who shouldn’t have them.

Senators from both parties have also come together and proposed a bill that would crack down on people who buy guns only to turn them around and sell them to criminals.  It’s a bill that would keep more guns off the street and out of the hands of people with the intent of doing harm.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, in addition to reducing violence on the streets, it would also make life a lot easier and a lot safer for the people standing behind me here today.  (Applause.)

We shouldn’t stop there.  We should restore the ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines.  (Applause.)  And that deserves a vote in Congress — because weapons of war have no place on our streets, or in our schools, or threatening our law enforcement officers.  Our law enforcement officers should never be out-gunned on the streets.  (Applause.)

But we also know that if we’re going to solve the problem of gun violence, then we’ve got to look at root causes as well.  That means we should make it easier for young people to get access to mental health treatment.  (Applause.)  We should help communities like this one keep more cops on the beat.  (Applause.)  And since Congress hasn’t confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in six years, they should confirm your U.S. Attorney from Minnesota, Todd Jones, who is here today and who I’ve nominated for this post.  (Applause.)

These are common-sense measures supported by Democrats, Republicans and independents, and many of them are responsible gun owners.  And we’re seeing members of Congress from both parties put aside their differences and work together to make many of them a reality.

But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the last four years, it’s that you can’t count on anything in Washington until it’s done.  And nothing is done yet.  There’s been a lot of talk, a lot of conversation, a lot of publicity, but we haven’t actually taken concrete steps yet.

Last week, the Senate held its first hearing since Newtown on the need to address gun violence and the best way to move forward, and the first people to offer testimony were Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly.  They talked about how a complex problem like this has no single solution, but if we still had a 10-round limit on magazines, for example, the gunman who shot Gabby may never have been able to inflict 33 gunshot wounds in 15 seconds.  Fifteen seconds, 33 rounds fired.  Some of the six people who lost their lives that day in Tucson might still be with us.

Now, changing the status quo is never easy.  This will be no exception.  The only way we can reduce gun violence in this country is if the American people decide it’s important.  If you decide it’s important.  If parents and teachers, police officers and pastors, hunters and sportsmen, Americans of every background stand up and say this time it’s got to be different — we’ve suffered too much pain to stand by and do nothing.

And by the way, it’s really important for us to engage with folks who don’t agree with us on everything, because we hope that we can find some areas where we do agree.  And we have to recognize that there are going to be regional differences and geographic differences.  The experience that people have of guns in an urban neighborhood may not be the same as in a rural community.

But we know, for example, from polling that universal background checks are universally supported just about, by gun owners.  The majority of gun owners, overwhelming majority of gun owners think that’s a good idea.  So if we’ve got lobbyists in Washington claiming to speak for gun owners saying something different, we need to go to the source and reach out to people directly.  We can’t allow those filters to get in the way of common sense.

That’s why I need everybody who’s listening to keep the pressure on your member of Congress to do the right thing.  Ask them if they support common-sense reforms like requiring universal background checks, or restoring the ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  Tell them there’s no legislation to eliminate all guns; there’s no legislation being proposed to subvert the Second Amendment.  Tell them specifically what we’re talking about — things that the majority of Americans, when they’re asked, support.

And tell them now is the time for action.  That we’re not going to wait until the next Newtown or the next Aurora.  We’re not going to wait until after we lose more innocent Americans on street corners all across the country.  We’re not going to wait until somebody else’s father or son are murdered.

Some of the officers here today know what it’s like to look into the eyes of a parent or a grandparent, a brother or a sister who has just lost a loved one to an act of violence; to see the pain and the heartbreak from wondering why this precious life, this piece of your heart was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It changes you.  You’re not the same afterwards.

And obviously whatever that experience is like is nothing compared to the experience that those families are actually going through.  And it makes you realize that if there’s even one thing we can do to keep our children and our community safe, if there’s just one step we can take to prevent more families from feeling what they feel after they’ve lost a loved one, we’ve got an obligation to take that step.  We’ve got an obligation to give our police officers and our communities the tools they need to make some of the same progress that’s been made here in Minneapolis.

There won’t be perfect solutions.  We’re not going to save every life.  But we can make a difference.  And that’s our responsibility as Americans.  And that’s what I’ll do every single day as long I’ve got the honor of serving as your President.

So thank you.  God bless you.  God bless these United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
2:02 P.M. CST

Political Headlines January 19, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Urging Congress to Act on Stopping Gun Violence

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama’s Weekly Address: Urging Congress to Act on Stopping Gun Violence

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-19-13

President Obama is enlisting the public’s help to urge lawmakers to act on his proposals to curb gun violence, telling Americans “it’s got to be up to you” to make a difference.

Earlier this week, Obama unveiled his sweeping plan to halt gun violence in America through a comprehensive package of legislation and executive actions. The president is calling for a ban on some types of semiautomatic assault rifles, mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds, and cracking down on illicit weapons trafficking.

“None of this will be easy,” the president says in his weekly address. “Already, we’re seeing pundits, politicians, and special-interest lobbyists calling any attempt at commonsense reform an all-out assault on liberty – not because that’s true, but because that’s how they get higher ratings and make more money.  And behind the scenes, they’re doing everything they can to protect the status quo.”…READ MORE

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