President Barack Obama is urging a reluctant Congress to require background checks for all gun sales and ban both military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
But, in an emotion-laden plea to curb gun violence in America, he conceded "this will be difficult."
The president's sweeping, $500 million plan, coming one month after the school massacre in Connecticut, marks the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in nearly two decades. But his proposals, most of which are opposed by the National Rifle Association, face a doubtful future in a divided Congress where Republicans control the House.
Seeking to circumvent at least some opposition, Obama signed 23 executive actions on Wednesday, including orders to make more federal data available for background checks and end a freeze on government research on gun violence. But he acknowledged that the steps he took on his own would have less impact than the broad measures requiring approval from Capitol Hill.
Speaking at a White House ceremony with school children and their parents today Obama said, "To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act." And he said "Congress must act soon."
NEEDS CONGRESSIONAL ACTION:
-- Requiring background checks on all gun sales. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says 40 percent of gun sales are conducted with no criminal background check, such as at gun shows and by private sellers over the Internet or through classified ads. Obama said there should be exceptions for cases like certain transfers among family members and temporary transfers for hunting purposes.
-- Reinstating the assault weapons ban. A 10-year ban on high-grade, military-style weapons expired in 2004. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says such a ban might clear the Senate but doubts it could get through the House.
-- Renewing a 10-round limit on the size of ammunition magazines.
-- Prohibiting the possession, transfer, manufacture and import of dangerous armor-piercing bullets.
-- Senate confirmation of a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency has been run by an acting director, Todd Jones, whom Obama will nominate to become director.
-- New gun trafficking laws penalizing people who help criminals get guns.
-- Address legal barriers in health laws that bar some states from making available information about people who are prohibited from having guns.
-- Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
-- Make sure that federal agencies share relevant information with the background check system.
-- Direct the attorney general to work with other agencies to review existing laws to make sure they can identify individuals who shouldn't have access to guns.
-- Direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other research agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.
-- Clarify that no federal law prohibits doctors or other health care providers from contacting authorities when patients threaten to use violence.
-- Give local communities the opportunity to hire up to 1,000 school resource officers and counselors.
-- Require federal law enforcement to trace all recovered guns.
-- Propose regulations that will enable law enforcement to run complete background checks before returning firearms that have been seized.
-- Direct the Justice Department to analyze information on lost and stolen guns and make that information available to law enforcement.
-- Provide training for state and local law enforcement, first responders and school officials on how to handle active-shooter situations.
-- Make sure every school has a comprehensive emergency management plan.
-- Help ensure that young people get needed mental health treatment.
-- Ensure that health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
-- Encourage development of new technology to make it easier for gun owners to safely use and store their guns.
-- Have the Consumer Product Safety Commission assess the need for new safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.
-- Launch a national campaign about responsible gun ownership.