The Obameter

Better enforce gun laws

"My belief is that we have to enforce the laws we've already got, make sure that we're keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We've done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we've got more to do when it comes to enforcement. But weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don't belong on our streets. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced."


Better enforcement part of Obama plan to reduce gun violence

President Barack Obama made an emotional plea to lawmakers Thursday to strengthen the nation's gun laws.

But he also told voters in October 2012 that to keep assault weapons out of the hands of criminals, "we have to enforce the laws we've already got.”

(He also proposed reintroducing an assault weapons ban, something we're tracking separately.)

Has the re-elected president followed his own prescription that there's "more to do when it comes to enforcement”?

In January 2013, a month after a shooter killed 26 people, including 20 children, in Newtown, Conn., he released a plan to reduce gun violence.

It includes several measures that focus on enforcement of existing laws, such as:

• Encouraging private sellers to sell their guns through licensed dealers so buyers face background checks.

• Asking Congress for $4 billion "to help keep 15,000 cops on the street.”

• Requiring federal law enforcement agencies to trace all firearms picked up during criminal investigations to "help … reveal gun trafficking patterns.”

• Asking U.S. attorneys to consider stepping up prosecutions of felons illegally seeking firearms, or people who provide false information to pass background checks.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department will offer $25 million in grants to states to help them boost the number of records, especially mental health records, in the background check system.

The proposals are less than three months old, and it's too early to judge whether stronger enforcement will result. But it's a start. We rate this promise In the Works.


White House, "Remarks by the President on Gun Safety," March 28, 2013

White House, "Now is the time: The president's plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence,” Jan. 16, 2013

Justice Department, "Reducing Gun Violence and Preventing Future Tragedies," Feb. 13, 2013