Obama vows to fight for assault-weapons ban, other controls on guns
Obama's proposed gun-control measuresWASHINGTON (Reuters) — Here are the main proposals of President Barack Obama's gun-control measures:
-- Require criminal background checks on prospective buyers in all gun sales.
-- Renew and strengthen the federal ban on sales of military-style assault weapons that was in effect 1994-2004.
-- Reinstate a ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
-- Ban the possession of armor-piercing ammunition and its transfer to anyone other than the military and law enforcement.
-- Increase punishments for gun trafficking, particularly by unlicensed dealers or “straw buyers” who purchase arms for criminals.
-- Provide $30 million in one-time grants to states to help school districts develop and implement emergency management plans.
-- Approve the White House's $4 billion proposal to help keep 15,000 police officers on the streets.
-- Confirm a director for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF has not had a director for six years.
-- Give $150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and counselors.
-- Reach 750,000 young people through programs to identify mental illness early and refer them to treatment. A new initiative, Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) would provide training for teachers and other adults who regularly interact with students to recognize young people who need help and ensure they are referred to mental health services.
-- Make it easier for states to make information — notably about those with mental health issues — available to the background check system.
-- Direct the Centers for Disease Control and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.
-- Direct U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
-- Launch a national responsible gun ownership campaign.
-- Require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
-- Nominate a director for the ATF.
-- Finalize requirements for private health insurance plans to cover mental health services under the healthcare overhaul of 2010.
He proposed banning assault weapons, limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, requiring background checks on all gun purchases, penalizing those who buy guns from unlicensed dealers, hiring 1,000 more school resource officers and spending millions more on training, research and counseling.
The sweeping package - much of which needs approval from Congress - came a month after a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., left 26 people, including 20 children, dead.
In an emotional midday speech at the White House complex, a somber Obama recalled the innocent Americans who have been killed in a string of mass shootings: at a movie theater last summer in Aurora, Colo.; at a Sikh temple a few weeks later in Oak Creek, Wis.; at a shopping center last month in Clackamas, Ore.; and at Virginia Tech in 2007.
"While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try," Obama said, standing near four young children who had written him letters after the Newtown shooting.
Obama's announcement set off a fierce debate on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and some Democrats oppose changes that they fear would chip away at the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
"I am concerned that many of his (Obama's) proposals infringe on the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, which will not prevent a deranged individual or criminal from obtaining and misusing firearms to commit violence," New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte said.
Democratic Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said she agreed with the President's "comprehensive approach."
"I will not and cannot forget the never-ending scenes of families and communities in shock and mourning, and I will not ignore the calls of our citizens to do something to help stop the violence."
Fellow New Hampshire Democrat Annie Kuster said: "Both parties need to come together to take a comprehensive, common sense approach that's focused on strengthening the enforcement of existing laws, improving access to mental health services, and protecting our communities from military-style assault weapons."
Leaders of the Democratic-led Senate expect to begin debate in two weeks.
In a statement Wednesday, the politically powerful National Rifle Association accused the President of "attacking firearms and ignoring children."
"The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law," the group said.
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