The public debate on new gun control measures gets down to specifics today as President Barack Obama unveils a package of proposals that includes a ban on sales of assault weapons that faces congressional opposition even as a majority of the public supports it.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be joined at the White House by children who wrote the president expressing their concerns following last month’s mass shooting at a Connecticut school, Jay Carney, the president’s spokesman, said yesterday. The announcement is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. New York time.
“The president’s committed to this,” Carney said.
While Carney refused to preview what the president will introduce, other administration officials said that along with the assault-weapons ban, Obama will seek universal background checks for firearms buyers and a prohibition on high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Initiatives to strengthen mental-health checks, tighten school safety, address cultural influences such as violent movies and video games, and improve the government’s ability to collect information about gun violence, are also on the list, according to the officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss details before the event.
Reinstating an expired 1994 assault-weapons ban, administration officials have indicated, will be among the most difficult to pass, given opposition from gun-rights groups and their allies in Congress.
Support for banning high-capacity magazines has reached a new high, at 65 percent, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier this week. The survey has tracked the issue since early 2011.
Requiring background checks on firearms buyers at gun shows has the support of 88 percent of Americans, while 58 percent want to ban the sale of assault weapons, the poll found. Fifty-five percent back the NRA’s call for armed guards in schools.
Once Obama releases his recommendations, the focus will shift to Congress, where a number of members are already planning to offer legislation. Among them is Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who has said she will introduce a bill expanding the classification of assault weapons and prohibiting their sale and importation.
The plan will include 19 separate steps Obama could take through executive action, prompting complaints from Republicans that he will abuse the authority of his office to monitor gun owners and restrict their rights.
Representative Steve Stockman, a Texas Republican, said he would file articles of impeachment if the president uses executive actions to restrict gun rights.
“The president’s actions are not just an attack on the Constitution and a violation of his sworn oath of office - they are a direct attack on Americans that place all of us in danger,” Stockman said in a statement.