Obama proposes new assault weapons ban, background checks on all gun sales

(Photo Credit: Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)U.S. President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden looking on, unveils a series of proposals to counter gun violence during an event at the White House in Washington January 16, 2013.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed that Congress pass laws that would restore a ban on new "military-style assault weapons," while requiring background checks on all gun sales, a move which comes in the wake of the killings of 20 children last month in Newtown, Connecticut.

The President's wide ranging actions also included 23 actions that his administration can take without Congressional approval - executive orders - that include calling on his administration to improve the way it conducts background checks for guns and launch a gun safety campaign.

"I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality," President Obama said at the White House as he unveiled his proposals. "If there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."

Other proposals for new legislation include banning gun magazines with capacities for more than 10 rounds and tougher penalties on gun sellers who aren't allowed to have them. Senior officials estimated the total cost would be $500 million, including some from the existing budget.

A day earlier a coalition for forty national religious leaders sent a letter to Congress urging that they pass measures similar to what the president proposed Wednesday.

Signers of the letter included Peg Birk, Transitional General Secretary of National Council of Churches; James Winkler, General Board of Church and Society, of United Methodist Church, and Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners.

Of 23 executive orders he signed Wednesday, several included ways to improve the nation's background check system, launch a safe gun ownership campaign, require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations, increase training for "active shooter situations," research the causes and prevention of gun violence, challenge the gun industry to use better safety technology, and provide incentives to schools to hire "school resource officers."

He also proposed a new federal gun trafficking law meant to penalize the spread of weapons around the country.

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