82 Percent Of Guns Used In Mass Shootings Obtained Legally

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
President ObamaPresident Obama

President Barack Obama made headlines when he announced his executive action on gun control on Jan. 5.

According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, the executive action will create a more comprehensive background check system, improve enforcement of existing gun laws, increase access to mental health care, and push for safer gun technology.

During his speech, Obama cited several incidents of mass gun violence as his motivation for issuing the executive order, WDRB reports. Most recently, a massacre that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, California, rattled the nation. Another incident cited by Obama was the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Massachusetts, which left 26 people dead -- 20 of them children.

“Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad," Obama said. "And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.” 

Though background checks for gun owners do exist, they haven’t necessarily been an active deterrent against mass shootings. In fact, according to a collection of data on mass shootings created by Mother Jones, since 1982, 82 percent of the weapons used in mass shootings were obtained legally. 

Some may initially hold up this data as proof background checks and other forms of gun control don’t work, but as Obama noted in his speech, the existing system has large loopholes. Perhaps the most famous one is the so-called "Gun Show Loophole" -- background checks are not required in the private sale of firearms. Similar loopholes exist for the sale of guns on some online sites.

“Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying,” Obama said.

“We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world," he added. "But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence.”

Sources: The White House, Mother Jones, WDRB / Photo Credit: Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons, Stephen Z/Flickr