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President Announces $500 Million Gun Control Package

Proposals for curbing gun violence announced Wednesday by President Barack Obama:

NEEDS CONGRESSIONAL ACTION:

- Requiring background checks on all gun sales. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says 40 percent of gun sales are conducted with no criminal background check, such as at gun shows and by private sellers over the Internet or through classified ads. Obama said there should be exceptions for cases like certain transfers among family members and temporary transfers for hunting purposes.

- Reinstating the assault weapons ban. A 10-year ban on high-grade, military-style weapons expired in 2004. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says such a ban might clear the Senate but doubts it could get through the House.

- Renewing a 10-round limit on the size of ammunition magazines.

- Prohibiting the possession, transfer, manufacture and import of dangerous armor-piercing bullets.

- Senate confirmation of a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency has been run by an acting director, Todd Jones, whom Obama will nominate to become director.

- New gun trafficking laws penalizing people who help criminals get guns.

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EXECUTIVE ORDER:

- Address legal barriers in health laws that bar some states from making available information about people who are prohibited from having guns.

- Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

- Make sure that federal agencies share relevant information with the background check system.

- Direct the attorney general to work with other agencies to review existing laws to make sure they can identify individuals who shouldn't have access to guns.

- Direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other research agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.

- Clarify that no federal law prohibits doctors or other health care providers from contacting authorities when patients threaten to use violence.

- Give local communities the opportunity to hire up to 1,000 school resource officers and counselors.

- Require federal law enforcement to trace all recovered guns.

- Propose regulations that will enable law enforcement to run complete background checks before returning firearms that have been seized.

- Direct the Justice Department to analyze information on lost and stolen guns and make that information available to law enforcement.

- Provide training for state and local law enforcement, first responders and school officials on how to handle active-shooter situations.

- Make sure every school has a comprehensive emergency management plan.

- Help ensure that young people get needed mental health treatment.

- Ensure that health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

- Encourage development of new technology to make it easier for gun owners to safely use and store their guns.

- Have the Consumer Product Safety Commission assess the need for new safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.

- Launch a national campaign about responsible gun ownership.


Previous Story

Braced for a fight, President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled the most sweeping proposals for curbing gun violence in two decades, pressing a reluctant Congress to pass universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

A month after that horrific massacre, Obama also used his presidential powers to enact 23 measures that don't require the backing of lawmakers. The president's executive actions include ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence.

But the president, speaking at White House ceremony, acknowledged the most effective actions must be taken by lawmakers.

"To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act," Obama said. "And Congress must act soon."

Obama vowed to use "whatever weight this office holds" to press lawmakers into action on his $500 million plan. Still, even supportive lawmakers say the president's proposals — most of which are opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association — face long odds on Capitol Hill.

The president was flanked by children who wrote him letters about gun violence in the weeks following the Newtown shooting. Families of those killed in the massacre, as well as survivors of the shooting, were also in the audience, along with law enforcement officers and congressional lawmakers.

"This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe," Obama said. "This is how we will be judged."

The president based his proposals on recommendations from an administration-wide task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. His plan marks the most comprehensive effort to address gun violence in more than two-decades.

The president is asking Congress to renew the ban on high-grade, military-style assault weapons that was first signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 but expired in 2004.

Other measures before Congress include limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring background checks for all gun buyers in an attempt to close the so-called "gun-show loophole" that allows people to buy guns at trade shows and over the Internet without submitting to background checks.

Obama also intends to seek confirmation for B. Todd Jones, who has served as acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives since 2011.

The president's long list of executive orders includes:

— Ordering tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks and requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

— Ending limits that make it more difficult for the government to research gun violence, such as gathering data on guns that fall into criminal hands.

— Requiring federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

— Giving schools flexibility to use federal grant money to improve school safety, such as by hiring school resource officers.

— Giving communities grants to institute programs to keep guns away from people who shouldn't have them.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Previous Story

President Barack Obama is taking 23 executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence that don't require congressional action, including measures to encourage schools to hire police officers, increase research on gun violence and improve efforts to prosecute gun crime.

The executive actions are part of an overarching package assembled by a task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. The measures come a month after the mass shooting in Newtown, Ct., that killed 20 elementary school children.

Obama is directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence and is seeking rules to ensure that law enforcement conducts background checks before returning seized firearms.

He intends to nominate Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones is the agency's acting director.


Previous Story

President Barack Obama is announcing a $500 million package of executive actions and legislative proposals aimed at reducing gun violence a month after a mass shooting in Connecticut killed 20 elementary school children.

The package includes a call on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazine and it would close loopholes in the gun sale background check system.

Obama also is signing 23 executive actions -- which require no congressional approval -- including several aimed at improving access to data for background checks. A presidential memorandum will instruct the Centers for Disease Control to research causes and prevention of gun violence.

In addition, Obama will nominate Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones currently is the acting director of the agency.


Previous Story

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 is 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.

But 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, seeking to avoid setting the president up for failure, have emphasized that no single measure — even an assault weapons ban — would solve a scourge of gun violence across the country. But without such a ban, or other sweeping Congress-approved measures, it's unclear whether executive actions alone can make any 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 following 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 also expected to attend.

Obama has pledged urgent action to prevent future 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 also 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 now 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 is also 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' say-so.

"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 will soon be consumed by three looming fiscal deadlines, each of which is expected to be contentious. And the president has also 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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