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Obama’s Emotional Gun Announcement Draws Fire from WV GOP

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - President Obama's emotional call for more gun-purchase background checks is drawing fire from West Virginia's Republican members of Congress.

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."

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Reps. Evan Jenkins and David McKinley, all R-W.Va., criticized the president for taking executive action that bypasses Congress. McKinley called it a "unilateral action based on questionable constitutionality" and Capito called it executive overreach that "infringes on the rights of law-abiding citizens."

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 - WV