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Berkeley Representatives Praise Obama Gun Control Plans

Berkeley's legislative representatives – U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, state Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner – joined other East Bay legislators in voicing support for President Obama's proposals Wednesday.

Berkeley's representatives in the state Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives praised President Obama's announcement Wednesday that he was taking executive action to enact gun control legislation.

The president issued 23 executive orders, including ones to enhance background checks and expand the options for mental health professionals to report threats of violence.

He also asked Congress to approve legislation for universal background checks on gun purchases, restore a ban on assault weapons and limit magazines to 10 bullets.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), whose district includes Berkeley, said she hopes Congress will quickly adopt measures to renew the ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as require background checks on all gun sales.

Lee added she wants to improve mental health and violence prevention programs.

“I am encouraged by the actions taken by President Obama today to protect our children and communities from gun violence," said Lee. "However, there is much more work to be done in Congress and I will continue to fight for common sense solutions to the violence that plagues our nation and our communities."

State representatives also praised the initiatives.

State Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), whose district includes Berkeley, said she hopes to follow the president's lead at the State Capitol and adopt gun control measures at the state level.

"The president is setting the tone for the national conversation that has to take place.  I strongly agree with him that we need to take action in order to protect our children," said Hancock. "As someone who represents Oakland, I’ve seen the tragic consequences of gun violence - too many children are dying."

State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who also represents Berkeley, agreed.

“I applaud President Obama for presenting a comprehensive plan that will help reduce the gun violence ravaging our communities and, hopefully, stop the rash of mass shootings that have become an all-too-common occurrence," she said.

On Dec. 20, Skinner introduced a bill, AB 48, to regulate ammunition sales and ban high-capacity clips in California.

Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) was quick to praise the president's actions.

“I applaud President Obama for moving so quickly to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence in the United States and in our schools," said Miller. "I support his proposal and urge Congress to work quickly to pass it."

Miller added he will work with other congressional representatives to increase safety in the nation's schools.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our children. We must act now,” he said.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) also announced his support of the president's directives.

“The president has put together a bold plan to reduce gun violence and Congress needs to enact the legislation called for, like the ban on assault weapons, without delay. We cannot just sit on the sidelines and wait for another tragedy to happen," said Swalwell. "It is long overdue for members of both parties to rise above partisan differences and do what is right to protect the American people.”

Gun rights advocates, however, said President Obama's directives don't have a lot of teeth.

Charles Nichols, president of California Right to Carry, said the president's 23 executive orders require $5 billion in funding that Congress needs to approve.

He added the president doesn't have the authority to enact gun bans. That, he said, must come from Congress. Nichols said congressional approval of gun prohibitions is unlikely.

"President Obama's much hyped proposals were revealed this morning and despite all of the doomsday prophecies to the contrary, Mr. Obama all but conceded defeat," said Nichols.

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What do you think of the President's gun control plans? Tell us in the comments.

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