Obama Unveils US Gun Control Plan
President Obama has called for background checks on all gun sales. Photo by CNN
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed background checks on all gun sales and bans on military style assault weapons and high-capacity in the wake of the Newtown school massacre last month.
With relatives of some of the 20 children killed in the Connecticut rampage looking on, Obama signed 23 executive actions -- which don't require congressional approval -- to strengthen existing gun laws and take related steps on mental health and school safety.
The measures are part of a package of steps to reduce gun violence.
"This is our first task as a society -- keeping our children safe," the president said, as cited by CNN.
In his words saving even one life would make the changes he seeks worth the effort.
He also called on Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, to restrict ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds, and to expand background checks to anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or convention.
Republicans immediately rejected the Obama proposals as an attack on the constitutional right to bear arms.
"Nothing the president is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook," said a statement by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, considered an up-and-coming GOP leader. "President Obama is targeting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence."
The powerful National Rifle Association said it would work with Congress to find what it called "real solutions to protecting America's most valuable asset -- our children."
"Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation," the NRA said in a statement. "Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."
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