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President Obama to announce gun-limits proposals

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act into law during a ceremony in the Red Room at the Capitol on Tuesday in Albany, N.Y. Also pictured, from left, are Senate co-leader Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers. Behind Cuomo is Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.
(Mike Groll ~ Associated Press)
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is launching the nation's most sweeping effort to curb gun violence in nearly two decades, urging a reluctant Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used in last month's massacre of 20 elementary school children in Newtown, Conn.

The broad package Obama will announce Wednesday will also include efforts to stop bullying and boost availability of mental health services. It's expected to include more than a dozen steps the president can take on his own through executive action. Those measures will provide a pathway for skirting opposing lawmakers, but they will be limited in scope, and in some cases, focused simply on enforcing existing laws.

Congress would have to approve the bans on assault weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets, along with a requirement for universal background checks on gun buyers. Some gun-control advocates worry that opposition from Republicans and conservative Democrats -- as well as the National Rifle Association -- will be too great to overcome.

"We're not going to get an outright ban," Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., said of limits on assault weapons. Still, McCarthy, a leading voice in Congress in favor of gun control, said she would keep pushing for a ban and hoped Obama would as well.

White House officials have emphasized that no single measure -- even an assault-weapons ban -- would solve a national scourge of gun violence. Without such a ban, or other sweeping Congress-approved measures, it's unclear whether executive actions alone can make a noticeable difference.

"It is a simple fact that there are limits to what can be done within existing law," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday. "Congress has to act on the kinds of measures we've already mentioned because the power to do that is reserved by Congress."

New York's Assembly on Tuesday easily passed the toughest gun-control law in the nation and the first since the Connecticut school shootings. The statewide measure includes a tougher assault weapons ban and provisions to try to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people who make threats.

Obama will announce his proposals in a midday event at the White House, flanked by children who wrote to him about gun violence after the massacre of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Law enforcement officials, mayors from across the country and supportive congressional lawmakers are expected to attend.

Obama pledged urgent action to prevent similar mass shootings, and his plan -- coming just one month after the Newtown attacks -- is swift by Washington standards.

The president's framework is based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden, who led a wide-ranging task force on gun violence. Beyond the gun-control measures, Biden gave Obama suggestions for improving mental health care and addressing violent images in video games, movies and television.

The vice president's proposals included 19 steps that could be achieved through executive action.

Obama may order the Justice Department to crack down on people who lie on background checks; only a tiny number are prosecuted. Such a step has support from the National Rifle Association, which has consistently argued that existing laws must be enforced before new ones are considered.

He also could take steps ordering federal agencies to make more data on gun crimes available and conduct more research on the issue, something Republican congressional majorities have limited through language in budget bills. And he may order tougher penalties against gun trafficking and give schools flexibility to use grant money to improve safety.

Gun-control proponent Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who met with Biden on Monday, said the president also is likely to take executive action to ensure better state reporting of mental health and other records that go into the federal background check database. But he, too, acknowledged there were clear limits to what Obama can do without Congress' support.

"You can't change the law through executive order," Scott said.

White House officials signaled that Obama would seek to rally public support for the measures he puts forward, perhaps holding events around the country or relying on Organizing for America, his still-operational presidential campaign.

"The president's success in using this strategy, I think, is pretty notable," Carney said of Obama's efforts to engage the public in previous legislative fights. "He'll absolutely continue to engage with the American people on the policy proposals he's putting forward."

Still, it's unclear how much political capital Obama will exert in pressing for congressional action.

The White House and Capitol Hill soon will be consumed by three looming fiscal deadlines, each of which is expected to be contentious. And the president has pledged to tackle comprehensive immigration reform early this year, another effort that will require Republicans' support and one in which Obama may be more likely to get their backing.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the chamber's top Republican, has warned the White House that it will be at least three months before the Senate considers gun legislation. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it is immigration, not gun control, that is at the top of his priority list after the fiscal fights.

House Republican leaders are expected to wait for any action by the Senate before deciding how -- or whether -- to proceed with any gun measure. Publicly, House GOP leaders are being careful not to rule anything out ahead of Obama's announcement.

"I can't respond to any particulars because I haven't even looked at the Biden recommendations, but I can tell you we're all very concerned about the deaths that occurred and the innocent lives lost, and if we bear that in mind, the kinds of things we can do to help make that not happen again," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Tuesday.

Privately, House Republicans voice skepticism that the debate will even get to the point of Senate action that would require a response by the House.

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That's really smart. Let's crack down on law abiding citizens. I have yet to see any crack-downs on the criminals, who will ignore the new legislation. All this does is show the criminals that law abiding citizens are less able to defend themselves. Good job.

-- Posted by truthdetector on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 6:09 AM

The government sells weapons to other countries but wants to ban guns in the USA.

-- Posted by papermoon on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 7:39 AM

Prosecute the laws already on the books. There are already laws in reference to felons and mentally I'll people possessing firearms. But yet, Obama appointees like US Attorney Callahan in St Louis REFUSE to prosecute the gun laws that are already being broken. Why punish law abiding citizens when they are not even punishing the people who actually break the laws.

Do a story on the US Attorney in St Louis (who is the person who regulates what the assistant US attorneys do in Southeast Missouri).

-- Posted by Thelegend on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 7:41 AM

All of us will get to keep our guns as long as you are a law abiding citizen like it has been. We will see tightening of the background checks when you purchase a firearm and we will see the gun show loop hole closed unless the gun show is put on by a licensed firearm dealer and a background check is conducted at the time of the purchase of the firearm from the gun show. Majority of this has to be passed by congress such as the ban on assault weapons. I believe myself a common sense solution will be reached by both sides at the end that everybody can live with. I feel like there is a lot of over reaction to a lot of this which is being fueled by the media and various internet sites.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 7:51 AM

Most of the extreme Right are still licking their wounds from getting beat in November, this just gives them something to keep complaining about.

-- Posted by truth_seeker on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 8:25 AM

The pawns of the gun industry lobby will not like this.

-- Posted by Lippy Radeck on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 8:47 AM

well said swampeastmissouri! no law abiding citizen that is interested in hunting or protecting themselves and their property needs to own an assault weapon or a high volume clip. reasonable restrictions to avoid future massacres are what the majority of law abiding citizens are looking for.

-- Posted by chinook on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 8:52 AM

Chinook: " reasonable restrictions to avoid future massacres are what the majority of law abiding citizens are looking for."

Reasonable restrictions could prevent some "heat of the moment" shootings by having fewer weapons that are quickly accessible or quickly purchasable.

Those that commit mass murders tend to plan them well ahead of time and if any restrictions or security measures that block their way they will simply find alternatives. They have time (and money... since going thousands into debt isn't a problem for someone counting on dying or at least never getting out of prison) to import goods, or buy them on the black market, they have time to buy a CNC machine or a 3D printer to create any pieces they need that cannot be purchased. Sad as it is to say if a person really wants to commit a massacre and they spend a couple months running through scenarios and gathering supplies there is very little that can stop them.

-- Posted by Nil on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 9:30 AM

Gun Control is not about guns. Its about CONTROL!!!!

-- Posted by Right Minded on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 11:26 AM

Just look at Chicago, toughest laws on the books and highest gun crimes.

-- Posted by scared of the future on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 3:25 PM

The folks who support this in Congress will pay dearly next year in the elections. Just as they did in 1994.

There will be a huge backlash as there should be.

-- Posted by semorider on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 4:19 PM

Most of the extreme Right are still licking their wounds from getting beat in November, this just gives them something to keep complaining about.

-- Posted by truth_seeker on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 8:25 AM

And that's what you would think.

-- Posted by We Regret To Inform U on Wed, Jan 16, 2013, at 8:36 PM

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