Dozens of CEOs call on Senate to tackle gun violence: reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 100 chief executives of some of the nation’s most well-known companies on Thursday called on the U.S. Senate to take action to tackle gun violence, including expanding background checks and strengthening so-called red flag laws, according to media reports.

In a letter to lawmakers, 145 company heads urged meaningful action following a string of mass shootings across the United States that have most recently left communities reeling in Texas, Ohio, Nevada and South Carolina.

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the letter to the Republican-led U.S. Senate said, according to the New York Times, which first reported the correspondence.

Those signing the missive include the heads of Gap Inc, Levi Strauss & Co, and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. They also included Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Uber Technologies Inc, Twitter Inc, and Amalgamated Bank, among others.

“We are writing to you because we have a responsibility and obligation to stand up for the safety of our employees, customers and all Americans in the communities we serve across the country,” they said, according to the Times. The Washington Post also reported the letter.

Lawmakers have struggled to address gun violence after the 2012 killing of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut stoked the debate over gun control in America.

More mass shootings followed, including at a church in South Carolina, a music festival in Las Vegas and a high school in Florida. This summer, shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas – including in a Walmart – sparked fresh debate.

Walmart Inc and other stores have since called on patrons not to openly carry firearms in their stores, prompting protests from opponents who object to curbing gun rights.

The U.S. House of Representatives, led by Democrats, quickly took up measures addressing gun violence as lawmakers returned to Washington this week. These include three bills that seek to remove guns from people deemed a risk, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and prohibit people convicted of violent hate crime misdemeanors from possessing firearms.

The Senate, led by President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, has so far stayed on the sidelines, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looking to the White House for guidance.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators said they wanted to revive a failed 2013 bill to close loopholes in the law requiring gun sale background checks, but it remained unclear whether Trump would support it.

Polls have shown that nearly half of all Americans expect another mass shooting to happen soon in the United States.

(Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Trump says he will push to close background check loopholes for gun buys

FILE PHOTO: A prospective buyer examines an AR-15 at the "Ready Gunner" gun store In Provo, Utah, U.S. in Provo, Utah, U.S., June 21, 2016. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his administration would seek to close background check loopholes for gun purchases after Democrats accused him of reversing course on gun control measures.

Trump spoke with the leader of the National Rifle Association lobbying group, Wayne LaPierre, on Tuesday, a White House official said. Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump said he did not tell LaPierre, whose group strongly opposes increased gun restrictions, that he would avoid pursuing measures on background checks.

Trump, who was endorsed by the NRA in the 2016 presidential race, said he views the number of U.S. gun deaths as a public health emergency and reiterated his belief that people who are mentally ill should not be allowed to buy guns.

“We’re working on background checks. There are things we can do. But we already have very serious background checks. We have strong background checks. We can close up the gaps. We can do things that are very good and things that frankly gun owners want to have done,” Trump said.

“We have background checks but there are loopholes in the background checks. And that’s what I spoke to the NRA about yesterday. They want to get rid of the loopholes as well as I do. At the same time, I don’t want to take away people’s Second Amendment rights,” Trump added later.

On Tuesday, Trump, a Republican, said his administration was engaged in meaningful talks with Democrats, who control the U.S. House of Representatives, about gun legislation after gunmen in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed 31 people using semi-automatic rifles and high-volume magazines earlier this month.

Congressional aides, however, said the discussions have been low-level and generally unproductive.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Paul Simao)

Heading to El Paso, Trump nixes assault weapons ban, supports stronger background checks

A woman kneels at a memorial three days after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

By Nandita Bose and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed legislation to ban assault rifles as politically unfeasible on Wednesday as he prepared to visit the sites of two deadly mass shootings that shocked the country and drew criticism of his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

As he left the White House, Trump said he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and make sure mentally ill people did not carry guns. He predicted congressional support for those two measures but not for banning assault rifles.

“I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But I will certainly bring that up … There is a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs on travel to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas following back-to-back mass shootings in the cities, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs on travel to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas following back-to-back mass shootings in the cities, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The president faced an uncertain welcome on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people and the suspect were killed in a rampage early on Sunday and in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed at a Walmart store on Saturday before the gunman was taken alive.

The back-to-back massacres, occurring 13 hours apart, have reopened the national debate over gun safety and led protesters in Dayton to heckle Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, at a vigil for the shooting victims with chants of “Do something!”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said on Tuesday she would welcome the Republican president, who has said he wants to meet law enforcement, first responders and survivors.

But Whaley said she planned to tell Trump “how unhelpful he’s been” on the issue of gun violence, referring to the speech he gave on Monday focusing on mental health reform, tighter internet regulation and wider use of the death penalty.

Critics have said Trump stokes violence with racially incendiary rhetoric. The El Paso massacre is being investigated as a hate crime and the FBI said the Dayton shooter had explored violent ideologies.

Democrats accuse Trump of hiding behind talk of mental illness and the influence of social media rather than committing to laws they insist are needed to restrict gun ownership and the types of weapons that are legal.

In Iowa, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden planned to say, “We have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism, and division.”

In a sign of higher tensions after the shootings, a motorcycle backfiring on Tuesday night in New York’s Times Square sent crowds running for fear of another gun attack. “People are obviously very frightened,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN.

Authorities in Texas have said they are investigating Saturday’s shooting spree in the predominantly Hispanic west Texas border city of El Paso as a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism. They cited a racist manifesto posted online shortly before the shooting, which they attributed to the suspect.

An open letter to Trump on Wednesday in the El Paso Times described the border city as having “a deep tradition of racial harmony” whose people came together after the tragedy. It admonished Trump for calling El Paso one of the country’s most dangerous cities in his February State of the Union address.

“The violence that pierced El Paso, drawing you here today, is not of our own community,” wrote editor Tim Archuleta. “An outsider came here to shatter our city, to murder our neighbors. A white man from another Texas city came to target the more than 80% of us who share Hispanic roots.”

‘SINISTER IDEOLOGIES’

Trump, in his televised White House speech on Monday, condemned “sinister ideologies” and hate. His supporters say Democrats unfairly blame him for the behavior of criminals.

Democrats say Trump’s own anti-immigrant, racially charged language at rallies and on Twitter has done much to fan racist, white nationalist sentiments, creating a political climate more conducive to hate-based violence.

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat whose congressional district includes El Paso, declared that Trump “is not welcome here.”

Trump staged his first political rally of 2019 in El Paso in February.

She said on Twitter on Tuesday she declined a White House invitation to join Trump in El Paso after being told he was too busy to speak with her by phone in advance. “I refuse to be an accessory to his visit,” Escobar later told CNN.

Former Texas congressman and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, said Trump “helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible” and thus “has no place here.”

In an apparent answer to his criticism, Trump said on Twitter late on Tuesday O’Rourke “should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”

Not everyone agreed that Trump should stay away.

“This is not a political visit,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told reporters. “He is president of the United States. So in that capacity, I will fulfill my obligations as mayor of El Paso to meet with the president and discuss whatever our needs are in this community.”

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Rich McKay, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washingon, Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Paul Tait and Howard Goller)

U.S. House takes aim at loose gun-sale checks; passes second bill

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a second bill in as many days to toughen background checks for gun purchases, but both bills were likely to face opposition from the Republican-controlled Senate and the White House.

The bills are the first major gun control measures approved in Congress in many years. They are an early move to address gun violence by Democrats after capturing majority control of the House in the November 2018 congressional midterm elections.

The Senate remains controlled by Republicans, many of whom are closely allied with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun-rights voters, who fiercely defend what they see as their constitutional right to own firearms.

While Republican President Donald Trump has said he supports stronger background checks, he has thus far toed the party line on gun control legislation, leaving Washington deadlocked on how to address frequent mass shootings in the United States.

From 2009 to 2017, there were at least 173 shootings in which four or more people were killed, with at least 1,001 total deaths, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Thursday’s background check bill would extend the number of days government authorities have to complete a background check before a gun sale. It passed by a 228-198 House vote.

Wednesday’s bill would expand background checks to include firearm purchases at gun shows and over the internet. It was approved 240-190. Both votes were largely along party lines.

The White House said on Monday that Trump’s advisers would recommend the president veto both pieces of legislation if they reached his desk because the first would impose “burdensome requirements” and the second “burdensome delays.”

The current background check process allows a gun purchase to proceed after three days, even if a background check has not been completed, said Democratic Representative James Clyburn from South Carolina, who sponsored Thursday’s bill.

He said that process resulted in 4,800 gun sales in 2017 to individuals with criminal records, a history of mental illness and other disqualifying circumstances.

“FBI analysis of the current background check system shows that 3 business days isn’t enough time to decide if someone shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun,” Clyburn said on Twitter.

His bill aims to close what Democrats call the “Charleston loophole” in the background check law by extending the window to complete a check to 10 days. They say the loophole allowed Dylann Roof to purchase the gun he used to kill nine people at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015.

Representative Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, where the background check bills originated, on Thursday called them “misguided” and said “my constitutional rights could be deferred indefinitely.”

(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Susan Thomas)

What’s in play in Washington on gun rights after Florida school shooting

Messages, posted on a fence, hang, as students and parents attend a voluntary campus orientation at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for the coming Wednesday's reopening, following last week's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Angel Valentin

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican who has frequently pledged support for gun rights, is considering some changes to gun laws and other safety measures after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

Here are the proposals in play for Trump, who faces pressure to act from student activists pushing for tougher gun laws, as well as opposition from gun owners, the politically powerful National Rifle Association, and Republicans worried about how the issue will shape congressional elections in November.

TIGHTER BACKGROUND CHECKS

Trump supports a bill that would strengthen a database of people who are not legally allowed to buy guns. The bill would provide incentives for federal agencies and states to upload more data into the system.

Some Republican senators have already expressed concerns that errors in the expanded data could prevent some people from legally exercising their constitutional rights to own guns.

One potential snag: the House of Representatives has already passed a version of the bill that includes a measure allowing people to bring legal concealed guns across state lines. The Senate would likely balk at the provision.

Trump has not given his opinion on a proposal to require background checks at gun shows or on internet sites, which has been a way around the background checks conducted for sales in stores. This idea has failed twice in the past five years to find enough backing in the Senate.

AGE LIMITS

Trump said last week he wanted to restrict gun sales to people aged 21 and over. Currently, 18-year-olds can buy many types of guns.

He has subsequently been silent on that idea. The White House said details are being studied. Republicans in Congress, where they control both the House and Senate, have shown little appetite for the measure.

FUNDS FOR THREAT DETECTION

Trump supports a bill that provides schools with funding for training to identify warning signs for violence, anonymous tip lines, and other measures to boost school safety. There is broad bipartisan support for the measures.

BUMP STOCKS

Trump has asked his administration to craft regulations to effectively ban sales of “bump stock” accessories that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire hundreds of rounds a minute.

Banning bump stocks, which were not used in the Florida shooting but were used in a massacre in Las Vegas in October, has been studied in the past and deemed to require action by Congress. New regulations could be tied up with lawsuits. There is little momentum in Congress to change the law.

ARMING TEACHERS

Trump is most enthusiastic about the idea of training certain teachers and staff to carry concealed guns, which he said would the most cost-effective way to protect students in the event of a shooting. He said he believes potential school shooters would be deterred by knowing some teachers are armed.

This proposal falls in the jurisdiction of state and local governments, a point that Trump and Republican lawmakers have emphasized. The idea has been adopted in Texas and some other states, but teachers’ unions and some law enforcement groups have panned it.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Trump has said he would address mental health, but has not provided specific ideas. He has bemoaned the lack of mental institutions to treat people who may be violent.

Congress is likely to direct new funds to mental health under a 2016-passed law that authorizes money to move forward for the first time this year.

‘RED FLAG’ LAWS

Some states have laws allowing police to temporarily seize guns from people reported to be dangerous. Trump has not expressed opinions on the idea. There is not currently a broadly backed push in Congress to create similar laws at the federal level.

BAN ON SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES

Students who survived the Florida shooting, gun control groups and many Democrats want a federal ban on semiautomatic rifles, sometimes called assault rifles. There was a federal ban on assault-style weapons from 1994-2004, but there is little support for a renewed ban among Republicans. Trump has not discussed it.

MOVIES AND VIDEOGAMES

Trump has expressed concern that children are exposed to too much violence in movies and videogames, but has not made any specific proposals on the topic.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Frances Kerry)

Trump backs effort to improve gun background checks: White House

Placards and letters are shown, signed by worshipers at Christ Church United Methodist Church in response to shootings in nearby Parkland, Florida which will be sent to legislators and officials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

By Jeff Mason

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – The White House said on Monday that President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases, days after a shooting at a Florida school killed 17 people.

Trump spoke to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, on Friday about a bi-partisan bill that he and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” Sanders said in a statement.

Previous mass shootings in the United States have also stirred outrage and calls for action to tighten U.S. gun laws, with few results in Congress.

Students are mobilizing around the country in favor of stronger gun laws after the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history took place on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a former student is accused of murdering 17 people using an assault-style rifle.

Trump, who visited survivors of the shooting and law enforcement officials on Friday night, is a strong supporter of gun rights and won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby group, for his 2016 presidential campaign.

Many Republicans generally oppose measures to tighten gun restrictions, citing the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment protection of the right to bear arms.

Former President Barack Obama and many of his fellow Democrats unsuccessfully pushed to pass gun control legislation after a gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Cornyn and Murphy introduced their bill to improve federal background checks last November, days after a gunman killed more than two dozen people in a church in Texas.

The bill, called the Fix NICS Act, would ensure that states and federal agencies comply with existing law on reporting criminal history records to the national background check system.

Cornyn, of Texas, had complained when introducing the legislation that compliance by agencies was “lousy.”

Students are planning a “March For Our Lives” in Washington on March 24 to call attention to school safety and ask lawmakers to enact gun control.

Some students reacted with caution to Trump’s support on background checks.

“We want to prevent mass shootings from happening and while this could have happened with other types of weapons, NeverAgain believes school safety should be priority right now, not just background checks,” said Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Kali Clougherty, 18, referring to a campaign for gun control. “This is about the victims. Don’t forget that, we never will.”

(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington and Katanga Johnson in Florida; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Missouri governor vetoes bill to abolish concealed weapon permits

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill on Monday that would eliminate the need for a permit, training and background checks for persons who want to carry a concealed weapon in the state.

The Republican-led bill passed the Missouri House and Senate this spring with enough votes to override the veto when lawmakers convene in September. Two-thirds majority is required.

In a news release accompanying his veto message, Nixon, a Democrat, said he has supported prior legislation to expand concealed carry laws during his seven years in office.

“But I cannot support the extreme step of throwing out that process entirely, eliminating sensible protections like background checks and training requirements, and taking away the ability of sheriffs to protect their communities,” Nixon said.

Debate over gun control in the United States has increased after a gunman pledging allegiance to the Islamic State militant group killed 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on June 12 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Nixon, who cannot seek re-election this year due to term limits, said the law would allow people with criminal records, such as misdemeanor assault and drug possession, to automatically carry a concealed weapon.

“Allowing currently prohibited individuals to automatically be able to carry concealed would make Missouri less safe,” Nixon said.

Lawmakers and other supporters of the bill have said the law is an important step forward in gun rights and will not make the state less safe.

“Every time we change the concealed carry law people say there will be blood in the streets,’ said Kevin Jamison, a lawyer who is president of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance, which lobbied for the bill. “There is never blood in the streets.”

Jamison said nine other states already allow concealed carry without permits and associated training and background checks.

The new law would also expand the so-called “stand your ground” law to allow persons to use deadly force not only in their homes but in other places if they feel threatened. They would have no duty to retreat to safety under the bill.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Mo.; Editing by Alan Crosby)

White House announces major background checks overhaul following data breach

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government will set up a new agency to do background checks on employees and contractors, the White House said on Friday, after a massive breach of U.S. government files exposed the personal data of millions of people last year.

As a part of a sweeping overhaul, the Obama administration said it will establish a National Background Investigations Bureau. It will replace the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Federal Investigative Services (FIS), which currently conducts investigations for over 100 Federal agencies.

The move, a stiff rebuke for FIS and OPM, comes after last year’s disclosure that a hack of OPM computers exposed the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information of roughly 22 million current and former federal employees and contractors, as well as applicants for federal jobs and individuals listed on background check forms.

Unlike FIS, the new agency’s information systems will be handled by the Defense Department, making it even more central to Washington’s effort to bolster its cyber defenses against constant intrusion attempts by hackers and foreign nationals.

“We can substantially reduce the risk of future cyber incidents” by applying lessons learned in recent years, said Michael Daniel, White House cyber security policy coordinator, on a conference call with reporters.

The White House gave no timeline for implementing the changes, but said some would begin this year. It will seek $95 million more in its upcoming fiscal 2017 budget for information technology development, according to a White House fact sheet.

‘NOT THERE YET’

Officials have privately blamed the OPM data breach on China, though security researchers and officials have said there is no evidence Beijing has maliciously used the data trove.

Controversy generated by the hack prompted several congressional committees to investigate whether OPM was negligent in its cyber security practices. OPM Director Katherine Archuleta resigned last July as the government intensified a broad push to improve cyber defenses and modernize systems.

“Clearly we’re not there yet,” Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, said at a cyber security event in Washington this week when asked about U.S. preparedness against hacks. The damage done by cyber attacks, he added, “is going to get worse before it gets better.”

OPM has been plagued by a large backlog of security clearance files, prompting it to rely on outside contractors for assistance, possibly compromising cyber security.

The Defense Department and OPM did not respond when asked if the government will still rely on support from contractors.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of a House of Representatives panel that has been looking into the issue, said Friday’s announcement fell short.

“Protecting this information should be a core competency of OPM,” Chaffetz said in a statement. “Today’s announcement seems aimed only at solving a perception problem rather than tackling the reforms needed to fix a broken security clearance process.”

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Andrea Shalal; editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Susan Heavey and Alan Crosby)

Obama Announces New Gun Control Measures, Including Background Check Changes

President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled new measures that would govern gun sales and safety in the United States, actions he said are geared toward reducing gun violence by preventing the weapons from ending up in the hands of people who may use them nefariously.

Speaking in a televised address from the East Room of the White House, Obama listed mass shootings while detailing an executive order he said were designed to close loopholes in existing laws and make it tougher for people to obtain the weapons used in the deadly rampages.

The new measures would enhance the vetting process, requiring anyone who is “in the business of selling firearms” to obtain a selling license and conduct background checks. That’s not always the case under the current system, which has more lenient rules for gun-show and online sales.

“We know that we can’t stop every act of violence,” Obama conceded. “But what if we tried to stop even one?”

Opponents and gun rights activists immediately spoke out against Obama’s order, saying the president’s actions can not usurp American’s constitutional right to bear arms. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) issued a statement in which he said the president’s “words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty,” and said there was “no doubt” that someone would challenge the directive, which doesn’t need Congressional approval, in court.

In his address, Obama said the order was not an infringement of the Second Amendment and noted Americans were guaranteed additional rights and freedoms that gun violence was hampering, noting guns contribute to the deaths of 30,000 Americans every year. The president expressed a need to balance those other freedoms and rights with the right to bear arms.

He specifically mentioned the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“Those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara and from high schoolers at Columbine and from first-graders in Newtown,” Obama said, referencing campus shootings at Virginia Tech, UC Santa Barbara, Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School. “And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun. Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad.”

Obama also referenced mass shootings at a military facility in Fort Hood, Texas, a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the Washington Navy Yard, a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, and a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on a list that included “too many” instances of gun violence. The president said it was time “not to debate the last shooting, but do something to try to prevent the next one.”

Several Democrats lauded the president’s efforts. They include former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured during a mass shooting in Tuscon five years ago this week. She attended the address and tweeted Obama’s “responsible actions … will save lives.”

However, the National Rifle Association issued a statement saying that none of Obama’s proposals would have stopped any of the “horrific events he mentioned” during his speech.

“Once again, President Obama has chosen to engage in political rhetoric, instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation’s pressing problems,” Chris W. Cox, the executive director of the association’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. “Today’s event also represents an ongoing attempt to distract attention away from his lack of a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe from terrorist attack. The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts.”

The main point of Obama’s executive order is undoubtedly reforming background checks.

Those checks have already prevented 2 million guns from being sold to people who cannot legally purchase them, the White House said in a news release, and the executive order aims to bolster the strength and overall efficiency of the system. The FBI is planning to hire 230 additional employees to process the 63,000 background check requests it receives every day, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms is working to finalize rules that would prevent people from circumventing the background check requirements for particularly dangerous guns.

The order also calls for better enforcement of existing gun laws, and Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2017 includes funding that would allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms to hire 200 additional agents and investigators. The president is also pushing for better gun safety technology, directing officials with the Homeland Security, Justice and Defense departments to help study how to prevent guns from firing accidentally, and proposing $500 million for nationwide improvements to mental health treatment.

Capitol Hill Lawmakers Trying to Use Social Media Profiles in Visa Reviews

Lawmakers say they’re drafting new legislation that would tighten up the visa screening process and give officials the power to review an applicant’s social media profiles in background checks.

The House Judiciary Committee is currently working on the proposed bill, officials said Monday.

There has been widespread call for United States visa program reform in the wake of the Dec. 2 mass shooting that left 14 people dead and 21 more wounded in San Bernardino, California.

FBI officials have publicly said that the shooters, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook, were discussing jihad and martyrdom over the Internet in 2013, yet Malik was still allowed to enter the United States on a fiancee visa after these conversations. Malik was living in Saudi Arabia when she met Farook, a United States citizen living in California, on an online dating website.

President Barack Obama has called the shooting an act of terrorism.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) specifically mentioned the San Bernardino shootings in a statement announcing the proposed legislation, saying that more could have been done to check Malik’s background — including checking her social media pages.

ABC News reported that U.S. officials had a policy not to review applicant’s social media profiles during visa background checks because there were concerns about civil liberties. The news agency reported that immigration officials pushed early last year for social media profiles to be included in background checks, particularly as foreign terrorist organizations used social media to spread their message, but Homeland Security officials ultimately decided against a policy change because they feared there might be a negative public perception if a switch was disclosed.

Homeland Security’s social media posting policy is now under review, ABC News reported. While some pilot programs to review postings are in place, it’s still not a widespread practice.

In his statement, Goodlate mentioned published reports saying that Malik “posted her radical views on social media prior to obtaining a visa, yet it seems that the Obama Administration’s policies may have prevented officials from reviewing her account.” The proposed bill would now require officials to review social media profiles in background checks, as well as other changes.

“As terrorists continue to adapt and evolve in order to carry out their heinous plots, we have a duty to strengthen the security of our immigration system so that we keep bad actors out of the United States,” Goodlatte said in the statement, adding the bill would be introduced soon.