the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

Search form

Live Updates: What the President is Doing to Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands

President Obama has a responsibility to do everything in his power to reduce gun violence. Here’s what he’s doing.

CNN #GunsInAmerica Town Hall 

President Obama answered questions at a televised town hall event on how we can keep our communities safe from gun violence.


Watch President Obama Share the Steps He's Taking to Reduce Gun Violence:

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

Columbine. Blacksburg. Newtown. Aurora. Tucson. Oak Creek. Charleston. San Bernardino.

Too many communities across the country are still suffering from the heartbreaking consequences of a gun in the wrong hands. In the past decade, more than 100,000 people have died as a result of gun violence. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place. 

Sympathy is not enough to stop gun violence. Congress has repeatedly failed to take action, blocking commonsense reforms supported by the vast majority of the American people – including gun owners themselves.

The President has a responsibility to do everything in his power to reduce gun violence. This week, he will.  

#StopGunViolence: Key Moments from the President's Powerful Remarks


For every family who has had a loved one taken by a bullet from a gun, it's time to act to #StopGunViolence.

More than 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every year.

Here’s more about what he’s doing:

An overview of the President's executive actions


Gun Violence in America: By the Numbers


More than 4 million

Number of American victims of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun in the last decade

More than 30,000

Number of gun deaths in America each year

More than 20,000

Number of children under 18 killed by firearms over the last decade

More than 20,000

Number of Americans who commit suicide with a firearm each year


Number of law enforcement officers shot and killed by felons over the last decade


Number of days after which a gun dealer can sell a gun to an individual if a background check is not yet complete

Get the full breakdown of the numbers on gun violence in the U.S here. 

The President's Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

So President Obama is taking executive action to reduce gun violence. Here’s what his actions are designed to do:

Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks

  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making clear that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.
  • ATF is finalizing a rule to require background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity.
  • Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has sent a letter to States highlighting the importance of receiving complete criminal history records and criminal dispositions, information on persons disqualified because of a mental illness, and qualifying crimes of domestic violence.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is overhauling the background check system to make it more effective and efficient. The envisioned improvements include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. The FBI will hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff to help process these background checks.

Make our communities safer from gun violence

  • The Attorney General convened a call with U.S. Attorneys around the country to direct federal prosecutors to continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws.
  • The President’s FY2017 budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws.
  • ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.
  • ATF is finalizing a rule to ensure that dealers who ship firearms notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen in transit.
  • The Attorney General issued a memo encouraging every U.S. Attorney’s Office to renew domestic violence outreach efforts.

Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system

  • The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.
  • The Social Security Administration has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.

Shape the future of gun safety technology

  • The President has directed the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology
  • The President has also directed the departments to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.

Take an in-depth look at the President's latest actions here.

A Father's Call to Action: 

Mark Barden -- father of one of the young children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, introduced the President at today's events. He also shared an email message reflecting on the life of his son Daniel and the actions we can take to honor him: 

We called him the custodian of all living things.

If an ant had crawled its way into our kitchen, he'd gently pick it up and carry it out outside to rejoin its family. If he saw a classmate sitting alone, he'd be the first to provide company and comfort. At 7 years old, he cared, he listened, and he loved more deeply than many adults I know.

On December 14, 2012, he was killed by a man with a gun. My son Daniel was one of the 26 lives taken from us at the hands of a mass shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Since that day, President Obama promised us that he would use every tool available to him to spare another family the overwhelming pain of losing a child in such a horrific way.

Today, he is taking additional steps to reduce gun violence.

Read his full message here.


Senator Chris Murphy: What Congress Owes the Families of Newton

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut sent the following email this morning on what Congress can do to build on the President's actions:

Some of my colleagues in Congress have already raised their objections over these steps. Here's my message to them: Stop listening to the gun lobby. If they listened to gun owners instead, the vast majority of whom support sensible steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands, this debate would be over already.

We would have already acted. We would have passed universal background check legislation. We would have made straw purchasing and gun trafficking federal crimes to give law enforcement the tools to combat the flood of illegal weapons across state lines. We would have passed a ban on high-capacity magazines. We would have made it impossible for those on the FBI's terror watch list to purchase a deadly firearm. Instead, we've done nothing.

We should be listening to victims and families across the country who have been calling on us to act and do what we can to make the world safer for their children.

I'm proud to stand with President Obama on the actions he's taking to prevent gun violence.

Read the Senator's full message here. 

President Obama tears up at his press conference
President Barack Obama tears up as he delivers remarks to announce steps that the administration is taking to reduce gun violence, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 5, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)