Obama unveils plan to muzzle guns; bill next week


President Barack Obama called upon Congress Wednesday to toughen America's gun laws to confront mass shootings and everyday gun violence, betting that public opinion has shifted enough to support the broadest push for gun control in a generation.

At a White House event at noon, Obama announced plans to introduce legislation by next week that includes a ban on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks for gun purchases and new gun trafficking laws to crack down on the spread of weapons across the country.

He also promised to act without Congressional approval to increase the enforcement of existing gun laws and improve the flow of information among federal agencies to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn't have them.

The announcement was the culmination of a month-long process that began after the massacre of 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. In the wake of the shootings, Obama pledged action, but it was not immediately clear how far he was willing to go in the face of intense political opposition.

On Tuesday, the powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA) posted a web video suggesting that the President was "elitist" and a "hypocrite" because his daughters have protection while he opposes posting armed guards at the nation's schools. "Are the president's kids more important than yours?" the video asked.

The White House reacted strongly. "Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight. But to go so far as to make the safety of the President's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly," press secretary Jay Carney said.

On Wednesday, Obama opened his call for new gun laws by quoting from some of the letters he received from children — several of whom were sitting in the audience at the White House — urging him to take action on gun violence.

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