Category: Society / January 16, 2013 3:25 PM EST
President Barack Obama proposed a new assault weapons ban and mandatory background checks for all gun buyers on Wednesday (January 16) in a bid to channel national outrage over the Newtown school massacre into the biggest U.S. gun-control push in generations.
"In the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary, more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun -- 900 in the past month. And every day we wait, that number will keep growing. So I'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe's (Biden) task force. And in the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality."
Rolling out a wide-ranging plan for executive and legislative action to curb gun violence, Obama set up a fierce clash with the powerful U.S. gun lobby and its supporters in Congress, who are expected to resist the gun-control push.
The proposals stem from a month-long review led by Vice President Joe Biden, who 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, 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.