17 Jan 2013

Obama unveils gun control plan

5:40 pm on 17 January 2013

President Barack Obama has proposed a new ban on assault weapons and stricter background checks on gun buyers in a package of proposals to curb guns in the United States.

Mr Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden presented the measures at a White House event on Wednesday attended by children from around the country.

Twenty children and six adults were killed by a lone gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on 14 December. The gunman also shot his mother earlier.

The White House said on Tuesday the president will ask Congress for a renewed prohibition on assault weapons sales that expired in 2004, a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips and the closure of loopholes in the background check system.

Mr Obama has urged Congress:

  • To ban "military-style" assault weapons such as those used in several recent mass shootings
  • Impose limits on ammunition magazines to 10 rounds
  • Introduce background checks on all gun sales; currently private sales and some sales at gun shows are exempt
  • Pass a ban on possession and sale of armour-piercing bullets
  • Introduce new gun-trafficking laws

Mr Obama also proposed freeing up law enforcement funds for schools to hire 1000 new armed police, school psychologists and social workers.

The measures face stiff opposition in Congress.

NRA vows to fight proposals

Before the announcement, a taskforce led by Joe Biden met gun control and firearms rights advocates, entertainment and video game industry figures, parents and law enforcement officials.

The taskforce also consulted the National Rifle Association, which has repeatedly vowed to fight any attempts to limit access to guns or ammunition.

After the Newtown shooting, the NRA proposed stationing armed guards in every school in America. The association says it has signed up more than 100,000 members since the massacre.

On Wednesday, the NRA released a web advert attacking the president as "an elitist hypocrite" because his daughters are protected by armed guards at their school in Washington DC.

The ad accused him of opposing armed guards in every school and favouring "gun-free" school zones.