By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Newtown resident Mark Barden took the podium in the East Room at the White House on Tuesday to mark a special occasion that was somewhat rooted in the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.
On that cold winter’s day in a tony suburb in Connecticut, Barden’s seven-year son, Daniel, was among 20 first-graders who were shot to death. That’s because Adam Lanza walked into the Newtown elementary school and opened fire on those children and six adults, including his mother. Then Lanza shot himself.
Mass shootings has become one of the most polarizing debates since the 1999 Columbine shooting. Since then, more than 30,000 lives have been lost to gun violence.
“As a nation we have to do better,” Barden said before he introduced President Barack Obama. Barden is managing director of the Sandy Hook Promise, one of several groups that have been pressing Congress to pass laws to require background checks.
Obama’s executive order comes about three years after his administration sought a resolution to end mass shootings in America. Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, there have been more than 25 mass shootings in suburban towns.
Obama said that his latest executive order is one in a series of executive actions to tighten up steps that are already in place to curb gun violence.
“The United States of America is not the only country on Earth with violent or dangerous people. We are not inherently more prone to violence,” Obama said. “But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries.”
In April 2013 in the Rose Garden Barden was with Obama to announce a bill that was eventually blocked by some members of Congress.
This latest effort aims to, among other things, expand background checks to guns sold online and at trade shows, add more than 230 FBI employees to process background checks, call for 400 million increase in funding for mental health care, and call for $500 million increase in funding for mental health care.
Congressman John B. Larson (D-CT) applauded Obama’s move on gun violence.
“The most patriotic thing we can do is vote. With respect to universal background checks on gun purchases, the U.S. House of Representatives has failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation and vote—even in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and countless other tragedies,” said Rep.Larson (CT-01). “It is no wonder President Obama has acted where Congress has not. I applaud the President for taking a stand, but I will continue to call for the House to do its job and take up legislation that has broad, bipartisan support.
This move marks what will be a series of executive actions by Obama. That’s because the Democrats lost the majority of the Senate in the 2014 election. Executive orders are not as potent as legislation.
This move, though, will make Obama fulfill his promise to help “curb gun violence in America,” said White House officials.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy applauded this move.
“It’s time to step up – and we deeply appreciate the smart, commonsense steps the White House announced today,” Malloy said. “These actions will no doubt make a difference and make our communities safer.”