WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Obama has issued a response to an online petition calling for stricter gun control laws in the wake of last week's school shooting in Connecticut.
The petition had nearly 200-thousand signatures by this morning (Friday). It's the most popular petition ever on the "We the People" initiative.
Under the program, the administration promises to issue a response to any petition on the White House website that gets at least 25-thousand signatures.
Here's the president's response:
"Hi everybody, we started We the People so that you could directly petition your government on the matters you care about the most, so that you could make your voice heard, and in the days since the heartbreaking tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, hundreds of thousands of you from all 50 states have signed petitions asking us to take serious steps to address the epidemic of gun violence in this country. So I just wanted to take a minute today to respond and let you know we hear you. Now like the majority of Americans I believe that the second amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, we've got a strong tradition of gun ownership that's been passed down from generation to generation. And the fact is most gun owners in America are responsible. They buy their guns legally, and they use them safely. And it's encouraging that many gun owners have stepped up this week to say there are steps we can take to prevent more tragedies like the one in Newtown-steps that both protect our rights and protect our kids. Here's what I think we should do. This week I called on Congress to take up and pass common sense legislation that has the support of a majority of the American people, including banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips and making sure criminals can't take advantage of legal loopholes to get their hands on a gun. I also tasked the Vice President with leading an effort to come up with a comprehensive set of serious proposals to keep our children safe, including strengthening school safety, improving mental healthcare, and addressing a culture that too often glorifies guns and violence. I've asked for these proposals by January and I will push for them early in the year. I will do everything in my power as president to advance these efforts because if there's even one thing we can do as a country to protect our children, we have a responsibility to try. But as I said earlier this week, I can't do it alone; I need your help. If we're going to succeed, it's going to take a sustained effort from mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, law enforcement and responsible gun owners, organizing, speaking up, calling their members of Congress as many times as it takes, standing up and saying enough on behalf of all our kids. That's how change happens because of committed Americans who work to make it happen because of you. You've started something and now I'm asking you to keep at it. I'm asking for your help to make a real, meaningful difference in the lives of our communities and our country and make sure the United states of America is a safer, stronger place for our children to learn and to grow. Thanks so much."