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White House rejects idea of 'gun-free zone' around Obama

Published time: August 14, 2013 21:13
Edited time: August 16, 2013 11:08
US President Barack Obama (C) (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

US President Barack Obama (C) (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

After the Newtown shooting, 40,000 people signed a petition calling for the establishment of a “Gun Free Zone” around the president. The White House this week responded, rejecting the petition and claiming Obama faces “serious” threats every day.

After 26 children were massacred in Newtown last December, pro-gun advocates launched a “We the People” White House petition, calling for Gun Free Zones and the elimination of armed guards around the president, vice president, and their families. The gun-advocates were troubled by the fact that the Obama administration wanted stricter gun control laws in wake of the shooting, while relying on heavily armed guards to protect themselves.

Their petition closely mirrored a National Rifle Association advertisement, which called Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for providing his daughters armed guards. The ad’s narrator asked, “are the president’s kids more important than yours?” and called for a fair share of security by protecting Second Amendment Rights. 

“Gun Free Zones are supposed to protect our children, and some politicians wish to strip us of our right to keep and bear arms,” the “We the People” petition reads. “Those same politicians and their families are currently under the protection of armed Secret Service agents. If Gun Free Zones are sufficient protection for our children, then Gun Free Zones should be good enough for politicians.”

More than 40,000 people signed the petition, which was the required threshold to force a response from the White House at the time. The White House has since increased the threshold to 100,000 signatures.

The Obama administration this week dismissed the request, explaining that Congress mandates round-the-clock protection for the president – a law that was established after the 25thUS president, William McKinley, was shot and fatally wounded in 1901. 

The White House argued that President Obama and other elected leaders and representatives face “serious persistent and credible threats on a daily basis.”

“Those who are the subject of ongoing threats must receive the necessary and appropriate protection,” the White House wrote. “At the same time, all of us deserve to live in safer communities, which is why we need to take responsible, commonsense steps to reduce gun violence, even while respecting individual freedom.”

The White House response also urged lawmakers to “pass safe gun safety legislation that closes loopholes in the background check system and makes gun trafficking a federal crime” – a proposal that Senate Democrats were unable to push through in April.

“Even those who are mere candidates in a national election become symbols of our country, which makes them potential targets for those seeking to do harm to the United States and its interest,” the White House added, thereby dismissing the call for a Gun Free Zone around the president while still advocating for stricter gun control.