Here we arehttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/us/po ... .html?_r=0
Obama Calls for Broad Action on Guns
WASHINGTON — President Obama called upon Congress on Wednesday to toughen America’s gun laws to confront mass shootings and everyday gun violence, betting that public opinion has shifted enough to support the broadest push for gun control in a generation.
At a White House event at noon, Mr. Obama announced plans to introduce legislation by next week that includes a ban on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks for gun purchases and new gun trafficking laws to crack down on the spread of weapons across the country.
He also promised to act without Congressional approval to increase the enforcement of existing gun laws and improve the flow of information among federal agencies to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn’t have them.
The announcement was the culmination of a monthlong process that began after the massacre of 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. In the wake of the shootings, Mr. Obama pledged action, but it was not immediately clear how far he was willing to go in the face of intense political opposition.
Wednesday’s announcement reflected a decision by the White House to seize on public outrage to challenge the political power of the National Rifle Association and other forces that have successfully fought new gun laws for decades.
The president vowed to fight hard for the new gun laws, saying that the country’s leaders are compelled to act by the tragedies of gun deaths across the country.
“In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” he said. “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”
Mr. Obama opened his call for new gun laws by quoting from some of the letters he received from children — several of whom were sitting in the audience at the White House — urging him to take action on gun violence.
“This is our first task as a society,” Mr. Obama said. “Keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.”
The effort will be difficult and risky, as administration officials have acknowledged. Bruce Reed, the chief of staff for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., told a group of liberal activists on Tuesday night that passing the president’s proposals in Congress will be even tougher than it was to pass an assault-weapons ban in 1994, according to participants at the briefing.
But the White House believes that the dynamic around guns may be shifting, and that the president has a window of opportunity that he cannot pass up.
In the meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Reed said the administration will focus on a single top priority: that guns be kept out of the wrong hands. Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden will take that message across the country, Mr. Reed said, even as the White House and its allies begin an online effort to put pressure on lawmakers.
The N.R.A. appears ready for the fight. On Tuesday, it posted a video mocking Mr. Obama for having Secret Service protection for his children while opposing armed guards at the nation’s schools. The video calls the president an “elitist hypocrite.”
The White House issued an angry response to the ad. “Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “But to go so far as to make the safety of the president’s children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly.”
White House officials described the plan unveiled by Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden on Wednesday as a comprehensive effort that includes four major legislative proposals and 23 separate executive actions aimed at protecting “our children and our communities” by reducing the amount of gun violence in the country.
The officials said the president will call for a new and tougher ban on military style assault weapons and to limit the number of rounds that can be in a magazine to 10. That would eliminate the 30-round magazines that were used in Newtown as well as other mass shootings at Virginia Tech, a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and a congresswoman’s public event in Tucson, Ariz.
The proposals also would require criminal background checks for all gun sales, closing the longstanding loophole that allows gun buyers to avoid such checks by purchasing their weapons at gun shows or from a private seller. The background database, in place since 1996, has stopped 1.5 million sales to felons, fugitives, convicted domestic abusers and others, but today nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are exempt from the system.
In a document and in a conference call with reporters, administration officials called the enhanced background check requirements the single most important thing that could be done to prevent gun violence and mass shootings. The only exceptions would be transfers between family members and certain “temporary transfers” for hunting and sporting purposes.
The administration also said it will strengthen the background check system by addressing legal barriers that keep some mental health records out of the database, improve incentives for states to share records and direct law enforcement agencies to crack down on those who evade the background check system.
Mr. Obama called on Congress to ban the possession or transfer of armor-piercing bullets. He urged lawmakers to crack down on “straw purchasers” who can pass background checks and then pass along guns to criminals or others forbidden from purchasing them.
The legislative effort will start in the Senate, which remains under Democratic control, unlike the House, which is led by Republicans. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he would hold the first hearings into the proposals on Jan. 30.
The president will also nominate a new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the agency that regulates guns but has gone six years without a permanent leader confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Obama settled on Todd Jones, who has been acting director since September 2011.
In addition to the legislative efforts, White House officials stressed the actions that Mr. Obama is prepared to take on his own. In recent days, gun rights advocates have accused the president of a power grab, saying they feared he would exceed his executive authority in an attempt to take their guns away.
In fact, the list of executive actions is relatively modest, with most of the steps involving the president directing agencies to do a better job of sharing information.
Among the executive actions: to “launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign”; to “review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes”; and to “direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies.”
The president also promises to “launch a national dialogue” on mental health led by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, and Arne Duncan, the education secretary.
Mr. Obama also was overturning a 15-year-old ban on the Centers for Disease Control conducting research on gun violence. Officials said they reviewed the law and determined it only banned research intended to promote gun control, so they argued renewing fact-based research would not qualify.