The Long Beach City Council acted unanimously in supporting President Barack Obama’s executive actions, levied last month in an attempt to curb gun violence in the United States.
The president outlined his intentions to reign in gun violence with a series of actions to help close gaps in background checks and gun sales. During an emotional speech in January, Obama said the over 30,000 annual gun-related deaths in the country could no longer be viewed as normal, while rolling out new requirements for gun sellers to acquire a license and to carry out background checks for all sales, a ramped up background check process that includes increases in staffing for both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and a pledge of half a billion dollars to increase access to mental health services.
The president defended his stance as a supporter of the Second Amendment while simultaneously stating that the measures were needed to curb the gun violence that outpaces nearly every other country on the planet in frequency and gun-related deaths.
“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 in his speech. “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. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.”
The move by the council to back the president’s measures comes less than two months into a year where the city has already experienced 16 shootings, as of Tuesday night’s meeting. Crime statistics released by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) last month underscored a trend both at the state and federal level that showed an uptick in crime, after the city saw its lowest violent crime rate in over 40 years in 2014. However, the police department reported 286 shootings in 2015, including instances when nobody was struck by gunfire.
The President’s comments immediately drew praise and support from local elected officials after his speech last month. Congressman Alan Lowenthal and Mayor Robert Garcia took to social media with Garcia calling the executive orders “reasonable and responsible” in a tweet, with Lowenthal adding that congress needed to continue to build on the actions to strengthen background checks and “dangerous loopholes.”
Both used the hashtag #StopGunViolence.