The White House posted eight responses to petitions on its We the People website on Monday, among them requests that the president not to limit the rights of gun owners, that he endorse a National Rifle Association proposal to put armed guards in schools and one asking him to give up Secret Service protection for himself and his family.
Dozens of petitions urging both stricter and looser gun laws were posted to We the People in the days following the December 2012 shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. President Obama responded to most of those petitions with a video message a week after the shooting, but the petitions that received responses Monday were posted after the video.
Monday’s response to the gun control petition is titled “President Obama Believes in the Second Amendment. He Also Believes in Common Sense.” It describes the president’s efforts to enforce more rigorous background checks for gun buyers by executive action in the absence of new gun control legislation.
The response to the petition asking the president to forego armed guards notes that Congress mandated the president receive Secret Service protection in 1901 following the assassination of President William McKinley, the third assassination of a sitting U.S. president. The response goes on to detail the president’s gun control efforts.
The response to the NRA’s National School Shield proposal outlines the president’s plan to provide $150 million for school districts to spend at their discretion on guards, school psychologists, social workers and other officials dedicated to school safety.
The White House has tended to post just one or two We the People responses at a time rather than eight at once. All of Monday’s responses were to petitions posted before January 2013, when the White House raised the threshold for petitions to receive an official response from 25,000 signatures to 100,000 signatures.
Other responses posted Monday were on less controversial topics.
They noted that:
- The president supports the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution, which would guarantee women equal rights with men. The proposed amendment won congressional approval in 1982 but failed to win the endorsement of three-quarters of state legislatures. Advocates have suggested the amendment could still be ratified without being reintroduced if it was simply endorsed by three more state legislatures, but the argument is constitutionally murky. The White House did not address whether the ERA would have to be reintroduced to be passed into law.
- The president supports making it easier for immigrants to obtain H-1B work visas as part of a broad immigration overhaul.
- The president supports the rights of Americans to homeschool their children.
- The president supports the use of American Sign Language but can’t compel schools and universities to designate it as an official language of instruction as those policies are typically set by school districts and universities.
- The president doesn’t support bans on owning specific breeds of dogs, which “research shows . . . are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.”