Thank you for writing. People from across our country have written to me about gun violence and firearms policy, and I appreciate your perspective. The epidemic of gun violence in the United States is a crisis, and every year more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns. Too many Americans have to endure the painful heartache of burying loved ones due to homicides, suicides, domestic violence, gang shootouts, and gun accidents. Too many survivors have to learn to live with a disability or without a family member or friend, neighbor or coworker. And all of us—at every level of government, in the private sector, and as citizens—have to do our part to reduce gun violence.
Let me be absolutely clear: like I’ve said many times before, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. I also believe that most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law‑breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. Enshrined in our founding documents are the right to worship freely and safely; the right to assemble peaceably; and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I believe there is a rational, bipartisan majority that doesn’t want to see those rights taken from us, as they were taken from worshipers in Charleston and Oak Creek; moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette; students in Blacksburg and Roseburg, Columbine and Newtown; and kids on street corners across our country.
Some of the gaps in our gun laws can only be fixed through legislation, which is why I continue to call on Congress to pass the kind of commonsense gun safety reforms supported by a majority of the American people—something it has repeatedly and regrettably failed to do. We may not have a Congress that’s willing to work with us on this right now, so the rest of us will have to do what we can.
Earlier this year, building on significant steps taken earlier in my Administration, I announced new actions the Federal Government is taking to protect the American people and to keep guns out of the wrong hands. They include making sure that anybody engaged in the business of selling firearms conducts background checks, improving gun safety technology, and expanding access to mental health treatment.
Mass shootings tend to shine a light on those few mentally unstable people who harm others, but the truth is that nearly two in three gun deaths are suicides. That’s one reason why we made sure the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage for mental health treatment. That’s also why I am proposing a new $500 million investment in mental health care and working to ensure appropriate records about those who are prohibited by law from possessing a gun for mental health reasons are submitted to the background check system.
These actions won’t prevent every act of violence or save every life—but if even one life is spared, they will have been well worth the effort. You can learn more about the actions we are taking by visiting Go.WH.Gov/ReduceGunViolence.
Thank you, again, for writing. Please know I will continue to do everything I can to keep our country safe from gun violence.