US President Barack Obama (L) unveils a series of proposals
to counter gun violence as Vice President Joe Biden looks
on during an event at the White House in Washington.
US President Barack Obama has proposed a new assault
weapons ban and mandatory background checks for all gun buyers
in a bid to channel national outrage over the Newtown school
massacre into the biggest US gun-control push in generations.
Rolling out a wide-ranging plan for executive and legislative
action to curb gun violence, Obama set up a fierce clash with
the powerful US gun lobby and its supporters in Congress, who
are expected to resist what they see as an encroachment on
constitutionally protected gun rights.
Obama presented his agenda at a White House event in front of
an audience that included children from around the country, a
poignant reminder of the 20 first-graders who were killed
along with six adults by a lone gunman on Dec. 14 at Sandy
Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
"While reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge,
protecting our children from harm shouldn't be a divisive
one," Obama said.
Until now, Obama had done little to rein in America's weapons
culture during his first four years in office. But just days
before his second inauguration, he appears determined to
champion gun control in his next term with a concerted drive
for tighter laws and other steps aimed at preventing further
tragedies like the one at Newtown.
The proposals stem from a month-long review led by Vice
President Joe Biden, who on orders from Obama met with
advocates on both sides, including representatives from the
weapons and entertainment industries.
Obama's plan calls on Congress for a renewed prohibition on
assault weapons sales that expired in 2004, a requirement for
criminal background checks on all gun purchases, including
closing a loophole for gun show sales, and a new federal gun
trafficking law - long sought by big-city mayors to keep
out-of-state guns off their streets.
He also announced 23 steps he intends to take immediately
without congressional approval. These include improvements in
the existing system for background checks, lifting the ban on
federal research into gun violence, putting more counselors
and "resource officers" in schools and improved access to
mental health services.
The most politically contentious piece of the package is
Obama's call for a renewed ban on military-style assault
weapons, a move that Republicans who control the House of
Representatives are expected to oppose.
The Newtown gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, used a Bushmaster
AR-15 assault rifle to shoot his victims, many of them 6- and
7-year-olds, before killing himself.
Underscoring the tough political fight ahead, the National
Rifle Association, launching a scathing advertising campaign
against Obama's gun control effort and deployed its
representatives in force on Capitol Hill.
The NRA, which says it has about 4 million members, took aim
at Obama in a stinging TV and Internet spot, accusing him of
being "just another elitist hypocrite" for accepting Secret
Service protection for his two daughters but turning down the
lobby group's proposal to put armed guards in all schools.
Obama's plan appears to tread cautiously on the question of
whether violent movies and video games contribute to the gun
violence, which would open up issues of freedom of
A senior administration official said, however, that Obama
would be asking for $10 million for the federal Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention to study the root causes of
gun violence, including any relationship to video games and