Washington: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced 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 signed 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. Obama's broad effort to reduce gun violence will include proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines as well as more than a dozen executive orders aimed at circumventing congressional opposition to stricter gun control.
Obama was to announce the measures Wednesday at a White House event that will bring together law enforcement officials, lawmakers and children who wrote the president about gun violence following last month's shooting of 20 young students and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
The president also invited families of the Newtown victims and survivors of the horrific shooting to the White House on Wednesday. The broad package Obama will unveil will also include efforts to stop bullying and boost availability of mental health services.
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-NY, 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 up the president 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, congressionally-approved measures, it's unclear whether executive actions alone could 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."
Nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the shootings in Connecticut, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
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