Barack Obama seeks assault weapons ban in bid to curb violence
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other measures intended to curb the nation's gun violence in the wake of a massacre at a school last month, DPA reported.
Obama said he would ask Congress to pursue the toughest measures while also signing 23 executive orders into law, which do not require congressional support, including funding for research about gun violence. He said he would use "whatever weight this office holds" to see the measures implemented.
Obama was applauded as he announced the measures in Washington at an event attended by the parents of some of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and other children who had written him to express concern about gun violence.
He acknowledged that there is no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, "if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."
He called for a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, a ban on gun clips that contain more than 10 rounds of ammunition and called on Congress to pass legislation requiring background checks on all gun buyers, not just those currently in place at gun stores.
"Weapons designed for the theatre of war have no place in a movie theatre," he said, referring to a deadly shooting at a Colorado cinema last year.
Obama's calls for legislative action on the most serious proposals will likely face a tough road ahead given the power of the US gun lobby and widespread support for gun rights among lawmakers.
Obama urged on Americans to call on their lawmakers to force them to act.
"I will put everything I've got into this, and so will Joe. But I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it," he said.
The executive orders meanwhile address less sticky issues such as providing more funds for police and school security officers and enabling mental health officials to take action to report violent threats by the mentally ill.
Obama had considered proposals formulated by Vice President Joe Biden as part of a task force created after 20 children and six adults were shot dead at the Connecticut school in December.
A ban on the sale of assault weapons was in place until 2004, but it expired and has not been reinstituted. Obama pledged to pursue a ban during his first election campaign, but took no action on the matter during his first term.
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School unleashed a national debate on guns and whether tougher laws are needed.
New York state's governor on Tuesday signed the first new state gun legislation since the shooting. It expands a ban on assault weapons and large magazines, and takes steps to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people.