Obama to roll out gun package this week

2:21 PM, Jan 14, 2013   |    comments
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AP file photo of President Barack Obama.

(USA TODAY) - President Obama said Monday he will roll out a legislative package to combat gun violence later this week, and indicated he continues to back gun control measures that include a renewed assault weapons ban.

At a White House news conference, Obama also expressed support for a new and improved background check system, and restrictions on the size of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

"Will all of them get through this Congress?" Obama said. "I don't know."

Obama met Monday with Vice President Biden, who has developed a series of options for the president that include mental health and cultural issues as well as gun control.

There will be "a fuller presentation later in the week," Obama said, a plan designed to confront the kind of mass gun violence that killed 20 children and six adults last month at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

"My starting point is not to worry about the politics," Obama said. "My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works, what should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we're reducing the incidence of gun violence."

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights supporters -- including members of the Republican-run U.S. House -- say they will oppose new gun control measures, calling them ineffective violations of Second Amendment rights.

"Our objection to those things is that they interfere with people's rights without doing anything to solve the problem," said NRA President David Keene said on CNN this weekend.

Keene and other NRA members say they support more armed guards at schools, and better background checks to make sure people declared mentally ill cannot obtain weapons.

Asked about the opposition, Obama said he believes in the Second Amendment right to own guns, and that is not the object of his inquiry. The issue, he said, is "are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can't walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in in a shockingly rapid fashion?"

Obama said he feels obligated to tell the American people what he believes will work to prevent future shootings. The president also noted he can take executive action, without the approval of Congress. One potential example, he said: Data systems to track the movement of guns.

"If there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step," Obama said.

In recent days, Biden has held a string of meetings with officials involved in the gun debate, including a representative of the NRA. Biden sat down Monday with the House Democratic task force on gun violence, lawmakers who would be involved in passing a legislative package.

In his news conference, Obama said he is "grateful" for Biden's work, proposals that "I will address in the next few days and I intend to vigorously pursue."

USA TODAY

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