President Barack Obama on Wednesday committed to spending tens of millions of dollars on preventing gun violence, by signing a measure into law.
The bill, the Omnibus Appropriations Act, includes several funding increases for curbing gun violence. The law calls for $73 million to help prevent felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers from buying guns by improving state submissions of prohibited people into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The price tag is the highest amount ever allocated to the system.
The new measure also requires the FBI to report how well states are performing in submitting records to NICS, and includes $75 million for a national school safety initiative and $6 million to the U.S. Department of Justice for community-based efforts, such as public health programs.
RELATED: Gun control wins in Washington state
“As we head into 2015 we are more inspired than ever that the voice of the American people will prevail over the interests of the corporate gun lobby and the ranks of lapdog politicians who do its bidding,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Background checks have been required nationwide since November 1993, when former President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill into law after battling a lengthy struggle to pass the legislation. Since then, the measure has blocked 2.4 million attempts of criminals to purchase guns, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. But many grassroots organizations around the country continue to push for stricter gun laws to prevent residents from buying firearms on the Internet and at gun shows.
At the congressional level, opposite sides continue to disagree on gun legislation. On Monday, however, the Senate narrowly confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy, Obama’s pick for surgeon general. His nomination was held up for more than a year. He faced opposition from the National Rifle Association and some Republican members of Congress over his outspoken stance on gun control. Murthy wrote a letter to Congress urging the passage of stricter gun control measures, and also tweeted following the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School: “NRA press conference disappointing but predictable — blame everything in the world except guns for the Newtown tragedy. #wakeup.”
Wins at the state level have kept alive conversations about gun control this year. In the only state where a gun issue was directly on a ballot for the midterm elections in November, Washington residents passed Initiative 594 to require criminal background checks on all firearms sales and transfers in the state, including at gun shows and on the Internet.