Obama set to propose tough gun control measures
Published Tuesday, January 15, 2013 6:32AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 15, 2013 10:36PM EST
U.S. President Barack Obama will propose wide-ranging gun law reforms on Wednesday, setting the stage for what is expected to be a bitter fight between his administration, Republican lawmakers and firearms owners.
Obama is expected to recommend a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, as well as ask for universal background checks on gun buyers. The latter would close the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows people to buy weapons from private gun sellers at exhibitions without background checks.
But many wonder whether a deeply divided Congress will approve Obama’s efforts to curb gun violence in the wake of last month’s Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead.
“I think it’s going to be a dog fight, partly because the Second Amendment (of the U.S. Constitution) and the right to bear arms goes deep in American culture,” Harold Pollack, co-director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, told CTV News Channel.
The National Rifle Association will be among Obama’s most vocal opponents, but “the NRA does not speak for the majority of gun owners in America,” Pollack said.
He believes the president has strong public support for “modest and helpful” gun measures, such as keeping guns out of violent offenders’ hands. But a major overhaul of gun control laws is unlikely, he said.
“If anyone is expecting us to look like Canada after this -- that will not happen.”
Obama’s proposal to Congress comes as New York lawmakers passed the toughest gun control legislation in the U.S. on Tuesday.
In a 104-43 vote, the New York Assembly approved strict measures that call for a tougher assault weapons ban and restrictions on gun and ammunition sales.
The new law has provisions aimed at keeping mentally ill people from possessing guns. It also requires background checks for private sales of assault weapons to anyone other than an immediate family member.
Ammunition magazine capacity will be reduced from 10 bullets to seven and owners of high-capacity magazines will have a year to sell them out of state.
Buying or selling assault weapons over the Internet will also be banned in New York.
Obama is expected to make his announcement Wednesday surrounded by children who wrote to him about gun violence following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown. He’s also expected to be joined by law enforcement officials, mayors and lawmakers who support gun control measures.
The proposed gun legislation package is based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden, who was asked to lead a task force on gun violence shortly after the Newtown shooting.
Biden has identified 19 steps that can be taken through executive action, meaning Obama could use his discretionary power to enforce them, but even some Democrats have warned that the president cannot change laws without approval from Congress.
With files from The Associated Press