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Obama backs gun limits, concedes tough fight ahead



Published: Tue, January 15, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON

President Barack Obama endorsed controversial bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines Monday, as well as stricter background checks for gun buyers — but conceded he may not win approval of all in a Congress reluctant to tighten restrictions.

“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know,” said Obama. He said lawmakers would have to “examine their own conscience” as they tackle gun-control legislation after the horrifying Connecticut school shootings but in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun-rights groups.

Obama spoke at a midday White House news conference one month after the Newtown elementary school rampage, which ignited a national discussion on preventing mass shootings.

The president said he would unveil a comprehensive road map for curbing gun violence within days. His plan will be based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden’s gun task force and is expected to include both legislative proposals and steps Obama can implement by himself using his presidential powers.

But the most sweeping and contentious elements — including an assault-weapons ban — will require approval from a Congress that has been loath to tackle gun-control legislation for more than a decade. The politically powerful NRA has vowed to fight any measure that would limit access to guns and ammunition, a hardline position that could sway some Republicans and conservative Democrats.

Despite the opposition, Obama said he would “vigorously pursue” measures to tighten gun laws.

“My starting point is not to worry about the politics,” he said.

The president’s new resolve follows a lack of movement in tackling gun violence throughout much of his first term, despite several high-profile shootings. He called the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School the worst day of his presidency and vowed to take action.

Parents of the slain Connecticut children added their voices to the national dialogue Monday. Members of the newly formed group Sandy Hook Promise called for an open-minded discussion about a range of issues, including guns, mental health and safety in schools and other public places.

And lawmakers in New York state pressed ahead with what would be the nation’s first gun-control measure approved since the school shootings. Among the items in a tentative agreement in the state Legislature are further restrictions on the state’s ban on assault weapons, limits on the size of magazines to seven bullets, down from the current 10, and more-stringent background checks for sales.

White House officials believe moving swiftly on gun proposals at a national level, before the shock over the Newtown shooting fades, gives Obama the best chance to get his proposals through Congress. Several pro-gun-rights lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, said in the days after the shooting that they were open to discussing possible control measures.

Seeking to keep up the pressure on lawmakers, Obama said Monday that if “everybody across party lines was as deeply moved and saddened as I was by what happened in Newtown, then we’re going to have to vote based on what we think is best.”

Officials said Obama and Biden met Monday afternoon to discuss the vice president’s recommendations. Ahead of that meeting, Biden huddled with a dozen House Democrats who have formed their own gun-violence task force and whose political muscle will be needed to push legislation through Congress.

The president, without mentioning the NRA, said some gun-rights groups have “a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government’s about to take all your guns away,”

Seeking to ease those fears, Obama insisted that responsible gun owners who have weapons for protection or hunting “don’t have anything to worry about” under the proposals he will push.

The assault-weapons ban, which Obama has long supported, is expected to face the toughest road on Capitol Hill. Congress passed a 10-year ban on the high-grade military-style weapons in 1994, but supporters didn’t have the votes to renew it once it expired in 2004.


Comments

1VINDYAK(1799 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

And passing more laws means more money needed to enforce those laws. Where will that money come from, how effective will those new laws be, and are we truly addressing the real culprit? I don't think so, as criminals and those with mental issues will still be among us.

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2kurtw(846 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

I keep a shot-gun at home for personal defense and, every now and then, I like to go out trap shooting. I used to own a Remington 22. caliber which I used for hunting and target practice- mostly I shot tin cans with it. I thought about buying a hand gun but am undecided at this point- I probably won't.

These are the kinds of weapons- shotguns, pistols, rifles- that come to mind when you talk about 2nd Amendment Rights. Assault Weapons, the Bushmaster. for instance, used in the Newtown Shooting, are in a different category all together.

They're military weapons and they belong in the hands of the military. A Bushmaster shoots out 30-to 40 rounds in seconds- they're made to kill or injure the maximum number of people in the shortest amount of time.

What is the mentality of anyone who wants to acquire this type of weapon? That's the part that worries. me.

If the Newtown shooter had been restricted to weapons of a lower fire power, there would have been fewer casualties. Assault Weapons in civilian hands should be banned- I'm even willing to say that existing ones should be confiscated (with reimbursement to the owner). It was a huge mistake to introduce them into the civilian market in the first place.

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3kurtw(846 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't belong to the N.R.A although I do believe in 2nd Amendment rights (I own a weapon).

I recently spoke to a relative, also a gun owner, who said he gave up his N.R.A membership years ago because, when he attended meetings and talked to some of the members, he started to believe that a lot of them had a screw loose somewhere- they were "nut-jobs".

In many respects the N.R.A. is it's own worst enemy- what many of it's members need are not "gun-smiths" but "head-smiths".

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