* Proposals culled from VP Biden's task force
* Assault weapons ban may be tough sell to Congress
* New York passes tough gun law
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON, Jan 16 President Barack Obama will
propose an assault weapons ban and better background checks for
gun buyers on Wednesday in a package of proposals to curb gun
violence after the killing of 20 children and six adults in a
Connecticut school a month ago.
The proposals will include executive and legislative action,
with the latter sure to face an uphill battle in Congress, where
appetite for renewing an assault weapons ban is low.
The president's announcement comes the day after New York
State lawmakers approved one of the toughest gun control bills
in the United States and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who led a task force
that made recommendations on the issue, will present the
measures at a White House event attended by children from around
the country who wrote letters to the president about gun
violence and school safety.
Obama, who has said the day of the shooting was the worst of
his presidency, said on Monday he would study the panel's ideas
and then move forward "vigorously" on those that he endorsed,
including some actions he could take without congressional
A White House official said Obama had not endorsed all of
the ideas put forward by Biden's team but declined to lay out
specifics on what would be announced.
"The president has made clear that he intends to take a
comprehensive approach," White House spokesman Jay Carney said
The president will ask Congress to reinstate the assault
weapons ban that expired in 2004, a measure to ban high-capacity
magazine clips, and closing loopholes in the background check
system, Carney said.
OBAMA'S FIRST MAJOR GUN EFFORT
The proposals will be Obama's first major foray into gun
control, despite several mass shootings that have occurred
during his four years in office. Gun restrictions are a divisive
issue in the United States, which constitutionally protects a
citizen's right to bear arms.
Biden delivered his recommendations to Obama after a series
of meetings with representatives from the weapons and
entertainment industries. The president requested the
recommendations after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown,
Connecticut, by a 20-year-old gunman who later killed himself.
The proposals are likely to touch on mental health and could
address violence portrayed in video games.
Obama has signaled his plan would include elements that did
not require congressional approval. The president could take
action to ban certain gun imports and bolster oversight of
The proposals are likely to draw ire from the National Rifle
Association, a powerful lobbying group that is traditionally
associated with Republicans. The NRA proposed having armed
officials in schools throughout the country and has said the
media and violent video games shared blame for the Sandy Hook
Elementary School massacre, the second-deadliest school shooting
in U.S. history.
"There is common ground" with the White House, NRA President
David Keene said on the PBS Newshour on Tuesday. "It is not on
banning rifles that we don't think will make any difference and
it is not on setting up a national gun registry."
"We have for 20 years been asking that those people who have
been adjudicated to be mentally, potentially violent be put on
the list of people who are not allowed to buy firearms."