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Obama lays out gun plan

Posted: January 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Salesman Kirk Marquez examines a Glock 9 mm pistol at the Oak Tree Gun Club in Newhall on Monday. Salesman Kirk Marquez examines a Glock 9 mm pistol at the Oak Tree Gun Club in Newhall on Monday.
Salesman Kirk Marquez examines a Glock 9 mm pistol at the Oak Tree Gun Club in Newhall on Monday.

WASHINGTON — Conceding “this will be difficult,” President Barack Obama urged a reluctant Congress on Wednesday to require background checks for all gun sales and ban both military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in an emotion-laden plea to curb gun violence in America.

The president’s sweeping $500 million plan, coming one month after the school massacre in Connecticut, marks the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in nearly two decades.

But his proposals, most of which are opposed by the National Rifle Association, face a doubtful future in a divided Congress where Republicans control the House.

Seeking to circumvent at least some opposition, Obama signed 23 executive actions on Wednesday, including orders to make more federal data available for

background checks and end a freeze on government research on gun violence.

But he acknowledged that the steps he took on his own would have less impact than the broad measures requiring approval from Capitol Hill.

“To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act,” Obama said, speaking at a White House ceremony with school children and their parents. “And Congress must act soon.”

The president’s announcements capped a swift and wide-ranging effort, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to respond to the deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Local school districts were reviewing their safety protocols following the shooting.

“The district is supportive of initiatives that will enhance safety and security of our students, staff and community,” said Gail Pinsker, spokeswoman for the William S. Hart Union High School District, when asked to comment on the presidential proposal.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Paul Becker declined to comment, calling the issue a political one.

Obama’s gun control proposals set him up for a tough political fight with Congress as he starts his second term, when he’ll need Republican support to meet three looming fiscal deadlines and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

The president’s proposals include:

a $150 million request to Congress that would allow schools to hire 1,000 new police officers, counselors and psychologists.

legislative and executive action to increase mental health services, including boosting funding for training aimed at getting young people into treatment more quickly.

The administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for expanded research. Obama also wants lawmakers to ban armor-piercing ammunition, except for use by the military and law enforcement.

He’s also asking for stiffer penalties for gun trafficking, to provide $14 million to help train police officers and others to respond to shootings, and to approve his nominee to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

One of the president’s executive actions on Wednesday was to nominate B. Todd Jones to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2006. Jones, currently the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, has served as the bureau’s acting director since 2011.

Other steps Obama took through his presidential powers include:

Ordering tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks.

Requiring federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

Ordering a review of safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.

Signal Senior Staff Writer Jim Holt contributed to this report


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