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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas’ U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers is shown in this file photo. ( Staton Breidenthal)

WASHINGTON -- Members of the state's all-Republican congressional delegation Tuesday panned President Barack Obama's executive order placing restrictions on gun purchases.

Photo by Andy Shupe
Conner Eldridge, a former U.S. attorney from Fayetteville who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat U.S. Sen. John Boozman holds, is shown in this file photo.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks in front of the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
Photo by Stephen B. Thornton
Second District U.S. Rep. French Hill cradles his great-great-grandmother's family family bible dating back to the 1840's at his office in Little Rock in this file photo.
Photo by Special to the Democrat-Gazette
Dianne Curry of Little Rock is shown in this file photo. She is U.S. Rep. French Hill’s Democratic opponent.
Photo by Staton Breidenthal
Arkansas’ 4th District U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs files at the state Capitol for re-election for the 4th Congressional district in this file photo.
Arkansas’ 3rd District U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers.

The two Arkansas Democrats running for Congress were split over the wisdom of Obama's actions.

Shortly after the White House's announcement of Obama's plans, the state's two U.S. senators and four U.S. representatives issued written statements condemning the move.

Arkansas' U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers said Obama's moves won't make America safer.

"What he calls 'common sense' steps to reduce gun violence will do little to curb violent crime and certainly would not have prevented a single one of the tragic mass shootings our nation has recently endured," Boozman said.

He blamed Democrats for blocking legislation that he said would better address the situation.

"The Senate has attempted to take real action to reduce gun violence by considering measures that would prevent terrorists from obtaining firearms, incentivize states to provide mental health records for background checks, and criminalize straw purchasing and weapons trafficking in a responsible way. Unfortunately, the president's own party blocked these real common sense measures from moving forward in the Senate," Boozman said.

Conner Eldridge, a former U.S. attorney from Fayetteville who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat Boozman holds, criticized both Obama and Congress for mishandling the issue.

"I disagree with the president bypassing Congress, but I also blame a dysfunctional Congress that has failed to act. Everyone in Washington should do their jobs and enact bipartisan legislation that defends and secures the rights of lawful gun owners under the Second Amendment and makes it tougher for criminals, those with mental health conditions, and terrorists to obtain weapons," his statement said.

If elected, Eldridge said, he would "work to find long-term legislative solutions that improve the background check system, strengthen mental health treatment in this country and keep weapons out of the hands of suspected terrorists -- and all while defending the constitutional rights of law-abiding American citizens."

Arkansas' U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle said Obama's executive actions "trample the Constitution and undermine our unalienable right to bear arms. They purposely seek to blur legal lines and intimidate individuals from exercising their right to buy or sell a firearm. Criminals or other mentally ill individuals who wish to inflict harm with guns will not be deterred by speeches or presidential memos -- and the president shouldn't punish law-abiding citizens in an attempt to prove they will."

House members from Arkansas were also critical of Obama's actions.

Second District U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock said the executive actions "would do nothing to prevent violence perpetrated by criminals and only make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms to protect themselves and their loved ones.

"It is the lack of access to mental health care that has resulted in many of the mass shootings, and while I was encouraged by the president's acknowledgment of this in today's speech, his decision to subvert congressional authority in hopes of achieving a political victory against gun rights is unconstitutional," he said. "The American people and their Congress will not let this action stand."

Hill's Democratic opponent, Dianne Curry of Little Rock, defended Obama's actions.

"I support President Obama and his efforts at increasing responsible gun ownership here in the United States. What President Barack Obama announced today was a new action to hire more individuals to process background checks on those buying guns, as well as seeking more funding for mental health care," she said in a written statement.

Obama's order is not "some great effort to take away Americans' guns or their right to own a gun legally," she said. "The one thing the President did not do and if I am elected to Congress is to ensure that every gun sale in this country is proceeded by a criminal background check."

Incumbents in Congress see it differently.

Arkansas' 4th District U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs called Obama's announcement an unconstitutional "political power play."

"Ironically, these out-of-touch orders will boost gun and ammunition sales as Americans react to an overreaching administration bent on restricting our freedoms," he said.

Arkansas' 1st District U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro called Obama's actions "misguided" and said they lack popular support.

"We all value the safety of our communities and children above all else, but by focusing his unilateral efforts on personal collectors and hobbyists, the president's proposal incorrectly targets compliant and lawful sellers instead of focusing on the consistent causes of recent atrocities," he said.

Arkansas' 3rd District U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers said he wasn't surprised by Obama's announcement.

"President Obama continues to reference false, misleading statistics to justify infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, and while I do believe that there are merits to addressing mental health and discussing ways to make our country safer, the proposals I have seen so far from this president do not get to the root of the problem," he said.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Obama's changes are "largely the same new restrictions that Congress has already rejected." The Republican said the president should focus on fighting terrorism and defeating Islamic State terrorists instead of pushing for divisive gun restrictions.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Obama would "restrict gun rights of law-abiding citizens."

"I am extremely concerned at the president's executive actions," the Republican said. "As Arkansas attorney general, I have a duty to protect Arkansans and to make sure our fundamental, constitutional rights are not violated."

A Section on 01/06/2016

Print Headline: State's D.C. delegation condemns Obama guns-curb plans


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Archived Comments

  • MAGN
    January 6, 2016 at 7:38 a.m.

    These men are such a disappointment to me. All they care about is saving their political skin. I thank our president for beginning to stop needless deaths.

    January 6, 2016 at 8:25 a.m.

    All these politicians that bash this need to put up a solution. If one life can be saved by this, great!! This action takes away nothing from the 2 amendment, yet many republicans try to make us afraid it is. If republicans didn't do it first, then it's trash. Since the constitution was written, things have changed. Oh my have they changed!! Our forefathers could not have imagined today's world. GOP, put up or shut up!!!

  • JakeTidmore
    January 6, 2016 at 9:14 a.m.

    They couldn't be more in tune if Lawrence Welk was directing them. The NRA sure can orchestrate its scare tactics.

  • nwar
    January 6, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

    The Arkansas Congressional delegation is adamantly opposed to -- (wait for it) --________________ proposed by President Obama. You fill in the blank.

  • TimberTopper
    January 6, 2016 at 10:27 a.m.

    Well the Arkansas delegation is after all, the best that outside money can buy. That along with the drawing of district lines and a population that just listens to a TV ad and makes a decision on the person they will vote for. Hell, a kid in a toy store spends more in brain power trying to decide which toy they want. And these folks are the results. At least the POTUS has made an effort, which is more than these worthless representatives of the people have done.

  • JakeTidmore
    January 6, 2016 at 10:48 a.m.

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Republican Presidential candidates ripped President Obama on Tuesday for what they called his stubborn insistence on linking gun violence with guns.
    In campaign stops across Iowa and New Hampshire, the G.O.P. hopefuls pounded the President for irrationally concluding that guns have played a role in the nation’s epidemic of mass shootings.

    “How any reasonable person could look at gun violence and say that guns are involved is beyond me,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz. “And yet, somehow, President Obama always finds a way.”
    “I would very much like to have a conversation about gun violence, as President Obama has said he wants to have,” said Florida Senator Marco Rubio. “But as long as he keeps falling back on this tired, unproven connection between gun violence and guns, there’s just no point.”
    The former Hewlett-Packard C.E.O. Carly Fiorina said that Obama’s persistent linking of gun violence with guns was “sad but not surprising, from a man who believes that people’s health can be improved by access to health care.”

    “He isn’t thinking straight,” she said.
    Of all the candidates, though, the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was perhaps the most scathing in his assessment of the President’s remarks. “Even if every gun in the world suddenly disappeared, there would still be gun violence,” he said.

  • mrcharles
    January 6, 2016 at 5:07 p.m.

    NWAR , Please add to your very clear and very concise to the point reaction by not only our beloved Arkansas congressional delegation , but also those who are not exclusively but predominately , the gop ILKs .

    I am not sure if George W. Bush isn't sometimes "channeling" into the brain of the very skilled Mr. neurosurgeon, but then again Jake for our enlightenment added the pronouncements of the other riders on the demented parrots regurgitating in various forms on the gop hate tour , so "W" may be "thinking" out loud in their minds to one and all. As Sea Bass says, you cant make this stuff up.

    At least our delegation does not use all the nasty, vile and hateful language I hear across the state when the good ole boys discuss our biracial President ,and in which they seem to pick on one particular side of his ethnicity to enrich their use of the King's English in describing the POTUS and everything and anything he does or thinks. I have no way of knowing if the delegation thinks like their constituents in their use of words to describe the POTUS or are they just too delicate in the media comments to say what they really think. Of course I am not saying one way or the other that by using racial slurs these people are racist.

    By doing nothing is that not an action?