President Obama’s gun control proposal to include background checks, assault weapons ban

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(CNN) President Barack Obama will unveil Wednesday a package of gun control proposals that, according to a source, will include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will announce the proposals, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday.

They will be joined by a group of children who wrote letters to the president in the aftermath of the December 14 shooting rampage by a lone gunman who killed 20 students and six adults at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, Carney said.

Obama will propose legislative steps he previously has backed, such as a ban on assault weapons, restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines and strengthening federal background checks of people attempting to buy guns, according to Carney.

The president also will push for other steps that could include executive actions on his part that don’t require congressional approval, Carney noted.

More specifically, the source — an official familiar with the process — said the president’s proposal will press for a ban on high capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds, universal background checks and a request that funds be made available to help treat mental illness and provide schools with support to enhance their safety.

Biden led a panel assembled by Obama to examine gun control steps after the Newtown shootings, which sparked a fierce public debate over how to prevent such mass killings with guns.

Opponents led by the powerful National Rifle Association promise a political fight against gun control measures that they say will violate the constitutional right to bear arms.

An NRA spokesman said Tuesday the group has experienced what he called an “unprecedented” spike in membership numbers since new calls for gun control began in the past month.

Approximately 250,000 people have joined the organization’s existing 4.25 million members, according to NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.

“This is in direct response to the threats and accusations coming from” Obama and other political leaders, Arulanandam said, adding that “if anyone is wondering if the American people cared about the Second Amendment … those numbers give a very clear answer.”

In addition to new members, the NRA is also receiving an influx of financial contributions, he said.

“This is going to be a very expensive and hard-fought fight,” Arulanandam noted.

The federal government estimates that more than 300 million non-military guns are owned or available for purchase in the United States.

At the White House, Carney acknowledged the challenge, saying: “If these things were easy, they would have been achieved already.”

“It’s something we have to do together,” he said. “It’s something that cannot be done by a president alone. It can’t be done by a single community alone or a mayor or a governor or by Congress alone. We all have to work together.”

Carney also reiterated Obama’s belief in the Second Amendment right of citizens to be armed.

“He has made clear that he believes we ought to take common sense, and enact common sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights but prevent people who should not have weapons from obtaining them,” he said.

Carney said the proposals Obama will present Wednesday would be his final version of the package recommended by Biden’s team.

The recommendations by Biden’s panel included as many as 19 executive actions, such as tougher enforcement of existing laws, legislators briefed by the vice president said Tuesday.

Obama could demand that agencies provide data for background checks that are supposed to accompany gun sales, ensuring that information included in the checks is as “comprehensive and complete as possible,” Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson of California told CNN.

The president also could immediately appoint a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been without a permanent chief for six years, Thompson said.

A Democratic member of Congress who was briefed on the recommendations said some of the 19 executive actions discussed included improving the way the government administers current law.

The legislator, speaking on condition of not being identified, cited loopholes in the federal database for background checks on gun sales as well as issues involving mental health checks as possibilities for executive action.

Across the country, more than a million people failed background checks to buy guns during the past 14 years because of criminal records, drug use or mental health issues, according to FBI figures. That figure, however, is a small fraction of overall gun sales.

None of the legislators mentioned the NRA’s call for armed guards at school as an option under consideration.

Obama has not ruled out issuing executive orders on some gun control measures to enforce laws already on the books, such as bolstering the way gun sales are tracked.

The president reiterated his desire on Monday for more robust background checks for gun buyers, keeping high capacity magazines away from criminals, and a ban on assault weapons.

“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know,” Obama said. “But what’s uppermost in my mind is making sure that I’m honest with the American people and members of Congress about what I think will work, what I think is something that will make a difference.”

Working with Congress will be paramount in curbing gun violence, Thompson said, singling out a ban on high capacity magazines as an example of a measure that could garner Republican support. A full-scale assault weapon ban would be tougher to pass the GOP-controlled House, he argued.

Obama also said on Monday that the gun lobby was “ginning up” fears the federal government will use the Connecticut tragedy to seize Americans’ guns. At least part of the frenzy is little more than marketing, he implied.

“It’s certainly good for business,” the president said, responding to a question about a spike in weapons sales and applications for background checks since the December killings.

Biden has said he’s found widespread support for universal background checks and restrictions on the sale of high capacity magazines, which gun control advocates believe contribute to more bloodshed at mass shootings.

The influential NRA, among other gun rights groups, has vowed to fight any new gun restrictions — like an assault weapon ban.

Gun control advocates, gun violence victims, the NRA, video game makers and others have met with the Biden-led task force.

In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed into law a series of new gun regulations — the nation’s first since the Newtown shootings.

Both New York’s GOP-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled Assembly approved the measure by overwhelming margins.

It includes a statewide gun registry and adds a uniform licensing standard across the state, altering the current system, in which each county or municipality sets a standard.

Residents are also restricted to purchasing ammunition magazines that carry seven bullets, rather than 10.

“The changes in New York are largely cosmetic,” said CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, who described existing regulations as “the toughest gun laws in the United States.”

Lawmakers in at least 10 other states are reviewing some form of new gun regulations in the new year.

Meanwhile, new national polls indicated a majority of Americans support some or most gun control measures.

By a 51%-45% margin, Americans questioned in a new Pew Research Center poll said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights.

And by a 52%-35% margin, a new ABC News/Washington Post survey indicates the public says it is more likely to support some forms of gun control after last month’s massacre. However, the polls showed continuing divisions on political and gender lines.

CNN’s Carol Cratty, Jim Acosta, Paul Steinhauser, David Ariosto and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

20 comments

  • Clayton

    He will do it, and the majority will not like it, but there is nothing that can be done other than to start winning elections. I just do not see how you do that with literally billions from unions and welfare votes. 45m people on welfare got got 62 million votes and won….. yea unless you have a horse in the race you should't be able to vote period.

  • ClanSmokeJaguar

    This is no surprise and what also is no surprise is the glossing over of the other provisions of the 19 mentioned.

    The devil is in the detail and this administration is very clever in hiding details that the media ignores.

  • richiey1

    HE 'S A MUSLIM ( NOT A U.S. CITIZEN )……
    POLITICIANS IN THIS STATE BETTER NOT VOTES ON HIS SH$T ;;;;;;
    *** OR THEY WILL NOT BE REELECTED…….
    EVERY DEMOCRAT NEEDS TO BE VOTED OUT OF OFFICE………..

  • east sider

    I am a proud Black man and I can not believe that most of my people do not know that gun control first started because white men were afraid of the growing number of free ex-slaves that had guns and were forming militias. Through out history in other countries the ruling body had armies and weapons to use against it's people to force them to do what ever they wanted. That was the main reason our forefathers wanted many of us armed was so that our leaders could never have that control over us. Obama is more European than black in the way he thinks and I really wish my people would quit worshiping him as our great black savior. I did vote for him the first time because we needed change. He has failed at every campaign promises he has made. I hope that when all the freebees and programs run out of money because we have to pay for his Trillions he spent his first term my brothers see him for what he is. Most likely they will just blame Bush…..please black America lets educate ourselves and quit being "left wing live stock" at the poles.

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      I'm a proud Black man too and I never voted for 0bama. I knew his hope/change would eventually cost us all something and it is.

    • JMS

      Maybe….Dred Scott v. Sanford was more freedom based for slaves with a smidgen of gun control but majority was for equal rights and to be considered a citizen of the country. The major test of the right
      to bare arms was first tested in Kentucky with Bliss V. Commonwealth of KY……. and even this was centered on concealed sword canes not slaves owning weapons.

  • Judy

    I am afraid of the people who are releasing all their evil thoughts here.
    I think they have the guns and can imagine using them. They have mental rigidity that does not have respect for the country they profess to love. If having different opinions about Assault Weapons makes you raving mad then do you really understand the American Way you profess?
    I wonder if the comments above would please the NRA. Is this the thinking of all gun owners?
    Judy

    • east sider

      just because someone believes in the right to own a weapon does not make them evil. I not a member of the NRA but I did agree with what they say about needing a gun to stop someone with a gun. You can think what you want to. I am a veteran and I don't have a gun at this time. It seems that you are the one that is raving mad for wanting the guns out of the hands of honest citizens. When a mad man threatens your family one day and you want to stop him by getting in a circle and singing hippy songs until he gives up I hope to God that there is someone "raving mad" like me around to save your ignorant life. If you don't like guns that is great don't own one. But it is not your place to make that decision for me. Don't worry luckily there are a lot of us vets around willing to protect your right to your fantasy world.

    • Steve

      Judy, you apparently hate this country we live in. You are upset that people use their first amendment right to speak out against an administration that is trying to take away our second amendment. You just want everyone to march to your beat of a drum. Do you even know what an “assault rifle” is? Are you aware that “assault rifles” are only used in around 2% of shootings and the average shots used are 3? Are you aware you have a better chance of falling out of your chair and dieing from those injuries then you being shot randomly with an “assault rifle” or any other gun?
      I’m sorry if you find my opinion evil but with all do respect your opinions are dangerous to all of our freedoms.

  • baldone

    its not about the right of owning a gun. its about people killing of other people with them. when a young kid picks up a gun and kills 30 people with an assualt weapen, and this keeps happening again and again thats a problem, and i could understand if these people were vilians or bad guys but they are average respectable people who take the owning of a gun to far. does the gun represent protection or assault ,remember the saying "break glass in case of emergency" well there is no emergency to break the glass, there's no milisias coming, no terreast at our door, but there are respectable people that are doing the killing. i do believe in the right to bear arms. in a case of emergency, not a killing spree.

  • dancydanna

    If you have any doubt in supporting The President's gun proposal, watch this very sad reminder and remember why it's crucial!

    • east sider

      Nice song and video, it was touching. It was to recognize the horrific deaths of 26 people. It is truly sad that so many will use this event for political gain. you are just one of the ignorant pieces of sh_t for promoting it that way. Why so many choose to see the world through their narrow sheltered eyes. The kid could have used a bomb made out of fertilizer, then you would want to ban that. Look at the whole picture.

  • colt

    average respectable people, I don't think so. I think they are people that have never been taught right from wrong. People that have no respect for others no matter what the circustances. Spoiled rotten people that have never had to face real resonsibility and when they do they can't handle it. Guns are not the problem our society is. Start parenting again ,belive in god again, Try a little common sense from time to time and yes I am a gun owner sportsman. To me it's a sport and a hobbie as well as a mode of protection.

  • John

    Yes, there needs to be better gun control. But banning guns and magazine capacities will do nothing to protect our soft target schools as long as they remain soft targets. And thinking that schools can remain "safe" as they are is just folly. Real security measures need to be applied to our schools. Undefended schools are just an invitation to more attacks. So fortify and defend the schools.

  • steve

    schools that are gun free zones will never be safe as long as there is no one there to stop them.all high ranking officials kids go to schools that are protected by armed oficials why are they any more special than our kids, this was the point the nra president was trying to make ,dont make something out of it more than it was.i am a gun owner and have never been included in your poles so how are these poles fair.media talks arout bushmaster,it it the same rifle i hunt with ,it just looks different and actually fires a 223 shell which is one of the smallest rifle caliber you can get and it is not an assalt rifle,they have been ilegal since 1937 or 1938.if a gunman is confronted with an armed person chances he can be stopped imediately definately will save lives dont go to a gun fight with your fists because you will surely loose

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