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Obama’s Emotional Gun Announcement Draws Mixed VA Reaction

While calling for expanded background checks, a tearful President Barack Obama recalls the gun deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary. (White House)
While calling for expanded background checks, a tearful President Barack Obama recalls the gun deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary. (White House)
January 6, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. - President Obama's emotional call for more gun-purchase background checks is drawing a mixed response in Virginia, largely split along party lines.

The president on Tuesday issued an executive order expanding the types of gun sellers that have to require background checks, closing a loophole at private gun shows. Obama cried visibly at a White House announcement when, surrounded by victims' families, he spoke about the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"First graders - and from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun," he said. "Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad."

Citing the families victimized in mass shootings in Virginia, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said, "It would be a violation of the public trust to ignore their pleas for meaningful protections." The General Assembly's Republican leadership was critical, however, and the issue may show up during the legislative session starting this month. Some gun-rights advocates have attacked a state executive action that ended a policy that recognizes gun permits from many other states.

Obama also proposed spending $500 million to improve access to mental-health care and would make it harder for some with mental-health issues to pass a gun check. In his remarks, the president said gun-rights moderates should support his actions.

Obama also proposed spending $500 million to improve access to mental-health care and would make it harder for some with mental-health issues to pass a gun check. That last step is similar to one called for by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has described himself as a hunter and a supporter of gun ownership. In his remarks, the president said those in positions like that should support his actions.

"We need the wide majority of responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time this happens and feel like your views are not being properly represented to join with us to demand something better," Obama said.

The president said the government should hire additional FBI personnel to speed up the background-check process.

Video of the president's full announcement is online at whitehouse.gov/blog.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA