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Proposals expected from Obama to curb gun violence

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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 8:14 p.m.

President's proposals


• Banning assault weapons. Obama has spoken in support of such a measure. Congress passed a 10-year ban on high-grade, military-style weapons in 1994, signed into law by President Bill Clinton. But supporters didn't have the votes to renew the law when it expired in 2004. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., predicted that such a ban might clear the Senate this time around but he doubted it could get through the House.

• Limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines. Obama also has spoken in support of limiting access to these items, like the ones used by the Newtown shooter.

• Requiring background checks for all gun buyers. Obama has spoken in support of broader background checks. Currently, people who buy guns at trade shows and through some other private purchases, such as over the Internet, are not required to submit to background checks. Gun control advocates long have wanted Congress to close the “gun-show loophole.” The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has urged Obama to make broader background checks his top priority, believing it has the best chance to win congressional approval.

• Installing a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency has had an acting director for some time.


Biden has identified 19 potential actions the president could take on his own, according to Jenny Werwa, communications director for California Rep. Jackie Speier, who was among a group of House Democrats who met with the vice president on Monday. Among the actions Biden is believed to have recommended:

• Ordering tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks; only a fraction of these cases are prosecuted. Such a step has support from the NRA, which argues that existing laws must be enforced before new ones are considered.

• Elevating gun trafficking to a felony.

• Ending limits that make it more difficult for the government to research gun violence, such as gathering data on guns that fall into criminal hands.

• Giving schools flexibility to use federal grant money to improve school safety, such as by hiring school resource officers.

• Giving communities grants to institute programs to keep guns away from people who shouldn't have them.

Obama's proposals are expected to include recommendations to address violence in entertainment and video games. Gun-rights groups argue that insufficient mental health care and violent images are more to blame for mass shootings than the availability of guns.

— Associated Press

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