Obama unveils gun control proposals

  • U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled what has been described as the most sweeping gun control proposals in two decades on Wednesday.

    He called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as more thorough background checks on gun buyers.

    Obama also signed 23 executive actions, which do not require congressional approval.

    The move comes after a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six teachers dead.

    Speaking at the White House, Obama said: "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."

    However, the country’s top gun lobbying group, the National Rifle Association (NRA), said the proposals were "not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation".

    "Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy," the group said in a statement.

    As part of his proposals, Obama has urged Congress to: reintroduce an expired ban on new purchases of "military-style" assault weapons; limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and pass a ban on possession and sale of armor-piercing bullets; introduce background checks on all gun sales; introduce harsher penalties for gun-traffickers and approve the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    The Democratic president did acknowledge his push would encounter stiff opposition in Congress

    Obama also signed 23 unilateral orders, including an end to a ban on gun-violence research by a prominent federal agency. 

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