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Several stories from around the country today on preventing gun violence and the President's announcement:
Obama unveils $500 million gun violence package
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is announcing a $500 million package of executive actions and legislative proposals aimed at reducing gun violence a month after a mass shooting in Connecticut killed 20 elementary school children.
The package includes a call on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazine and it would close loopholes in the gun sale background check system.
Obama also is signing 23 executive actions -- which require no congressional approval -- including several aimed at improving access to data for background checks. A presidential memorandum will instruct the Centers for Disease Control to research causes and prevention of gun violence.
In addition, Obama will nominate Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones currently is the acting director of the agency.
Obama taking 23 actions aimed at gun violence
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is taking 23 executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence that don't require congressional action, including measures to encourage schools to hire police officers, increase research on gun violence and improve efforts to prosecute gun crime.
The executive actions are part of an overarching package assembled by a task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. The measures come a month after the mass shooting in Newtown, Ct., that killed 20 elementary school children.
Obama is directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence and is seeking rules to ensure that law enforcement conducts background checks before returning seized firearms.
He intends to nominate Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones is the agency's acting director.
Obama seeks to enhance gun background checks
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is asking Congress to expand background checks on gun buyers to include private sales and is using his executive authority to increase the information available in data banks in the background check system. The White House calls background checks the most efficient and effective way to keep guns away from dangerous individuals.
Obama wants Congress to close loopholes that permit private gun transactions to occur without background checks. The White House says nearly 40 percent of gun sales are conducted by private individuals now exempt from checking the backgrounds of buyers.
Obama is also ordering federal agencies to make "relevant data" available to the federal background check system and to remove barriers that might prevent states from providing information, particularly mental health data, for background checks.
White House calls NRA video repugnant, cowardly
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says a National Rifle Association video referencing President Barack Obama's daughters is "repugnant and cowardly."
Obama spokesman Jay Carney says most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as "pawns in a political fight." Carney was referring to an online video from the pro-gun lobby. The video calls Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for having armed Secret Service agents protect his daughters at school while not committing to installing armed guards in all schools.
The NRA released the video ahead of Obama's announcement Wednesday of proposals for curbing the nation's gun violence.
The president is calling on Congress to enact universal background checks and ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines -- all measures the NRA opposes.
The gun lobby has instead called for armed guards in schools.
Senate to start hearings on gun plans
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he'll begin hearings in two weeks on gun safety proposals, as President Barack Obama pushes for fast action.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont says he envisions a series of hearings examining violence in popular media and how to keep guns safe, among other topics.
Leahy's plan could point to a slower process in Congress than gun control advocates would like a month after the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 people, including 20 schoolchildren. The White House sees a need for fast action before memories fade.
Obama is unveiling his proposals at the White House later Wednesday to ban assault weapons and require universal background checks.
Leahy, a gun owner, spoke Wednesday morning at Georgetown University Law Center.
2nd Oregon sheriff says won't enforce new gun laws
PRINEVILLE, Ore. (AP) -- Another Oregon sheriff says he would refuse to enforce any new federal gun law he believes is unconstitutional.
Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley said Tuesday he sent the same letter to Vice President Joe Biden that was sent Monday by Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller.
The letter says politicians are attempting to exploit the deaths of innocent victims in the Connecticut school shooting by supporting laws that would harm law-abiding Americans.
Hensley told KTVZ he believes in the Second Amendment, and he says officials should consider other factors that may have a role in mass shootings, such as violent video games.
Newtown, Conn., parents ask for police in schools
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Some parents in Newtown, Conn., are urging local education officials to consider stationing police at all town schools as they put together their budget proposal.
Three parents called for school resource officers at all Newtown schools at a school board meeting Tuesday night. They say the town should do all it can to prevent another tragedy like the one last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 20 first-graders, six educators and himself after fatally shooting his mother at home.
Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson's proposed $73 million education budget for 2013-2014 includes $165,200 for an extra eight security guards. She says safety became officials' top concern after the shootings.
Newtown has a high school, middle school, intermediate school and four elementary schools.