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Obama Asks Congress for Sweeping New Gun Laws

President Obama said the laws, including universal background checks and a renewed ban on assault rifles, would lead to 'fewer atrocities like the one that happened in Newtown.'

Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and a group of children who had written in support, President Barack Obama signed a proposal to Congress Wednesday to strengthen United States gun laws, including enforcing background checks and renewing a ban on military-grade assault rifles.

"If America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown," Obama said.

He listed some specific measures, including a 10-round limit on magazines for firearms, and asked congress to confirm Todd Jones to fill the long-dormant role of chief for the Bureau of Alchol, Tobacco and Firearms -- and briefly mentioned other measures, including helping schools hire more resource offices and making sure mental health professionals have the tools they need.

He suggested Congress should fund research into the link between gun violence and violent video games. But assault rifle bans and universal background checks made up the core of his proposal.

"The type of assault rifle used in [the Aurora movie theater shooting] has one purpose...to pump out as many rounds as possible," he said. "Weapons designed for the theatre of war have no place in a movie theater."

The law already requires gun owners to run background checks, but federal authorities have struggled to enforce that law.

Obama said he believes Americans are ready, and that he has majority support -- including 70 percent of the National Rifle Association, according to one poll -- but that lobbyists and pundits have held laws back.

"There will be lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical all-out assault on liberty," he said. "Not because that's true, but because they want to generate fear, revenues or higher ratings for themselves. The only way we'll be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different."

Last month Obama asked Biden to come up with "concrete steps" to prevent mass shootings and the broader epidemic of gun violence. Biden's task force met with some Sandy Hook parents, including those of in the Dec.14 shooting.

Other parents of children lost in the shooting have actively petitioned the White House to act.

"We recognize that no single law or reform will prevent targeted school shootings," said the parents of 6-year-old Noah Pozner in a letter provided to the Hartford Courant. "However, by enacting a wide range of reforms, federal, state and local governments can make our children much safer in schools."

Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, one of the first on the scene of the shooting, also asked the President to consider new legislation -- specifically, limiting access to the kind of heavy weaponry used by the shooter.

"We never like to think we're outgunned in any situation we're dealing with," he said in an interview with NBC News.

Sandy Hook parents and other Newtown community members have asked for changes in attitudes at the community level across the United States. The advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise launched a nationwide campaign Monday to enact "positive change" to prevent future shootings. While they have taken no official position on gun control -- and Sandy Hook Promise representatives were not immediately available for comment on Obama's speech -- members have listed policy change as one possible avenue.

"There are steps government can take. There are laws Congress can make," said co-founder Tom Bittman Monday. "But we have to fundamentally change our approach."

In a statement released shortly after Obama's address, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy offered his support.

"The common sense measures he proposed today are something that we should all be able to agree on," Malloy said. "Over the coming months, I will do everything in my power to make sure that Connecticut is a national leader in preventing gun violence.

"We will take steps to make sure that our gun laws are as tight as they are reasonable, that our mental health system is accessible to those that need it, and that our law enforcement personnel have all the tools they need to protect public safety, particularly in our schools."

Rose B January 16, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Okay, gun-loving America. Time to grow up and deal with your addiction to guns.
christina January 17, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Background checks will be the best bet for Gun control....maybe? That's why I stick with Airsoft Guns! SAFE and SPORTY!!! http://www.airsplat.com/airsoft-safety.htm
Bob Cerani January 17, 2013 at 12:19 AM
And the normal gun owners will deal with it. It's the deranged that I worry about.
Robert Chambers January 17, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Background checks are already mandatory for purchases of guns from stores as well as private sales of pistols. CT has some of the most stringent laws in the country, the guns don't shoot themselves. A whole lot more focus needs to go on mental health and personal responsibility.
tom January 17, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Exactly what do you mean?
Mike January 18, 2013 at 08:40 PM
All guns should be confiscated and destroyed. The second amendment should be repealed, along with the rest of the constitution. It was written by a bunch of old dead guys who knew nothing about the modern world. When nobody has guns, the police can be disarmed. When criminals don't have guns, the police won't need them. Then we can set the example to the rest of the world by disbanding our military. The other nations of the world will follow our example and disband theirs, and we can all live together in peace and harmony. We can spend the military budget on social programs. The government wants gun control, and you can trust the government. The government knows what is best for you.

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