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Obama to Announce Proposal for Restricting Availability of Guns, Ammunition

January 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
One month after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., the White House and various State legislatures forge ahead with proposals for legislation to strength gun control laws and penalties. Judy Woodruff reports on the unveiling of different measures to stem gun violence nationwide.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama will lay out his strategy tomorrow for stopping deadly attacks involving guns. That word came today, amid reports that he’s considering 19 administrative policy changes, as well as congressional action.

It’s been just over a month since 20 children and six adults died in the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. And now the president is ready to announce proposals on gun violence. They could include executive action, ordering steps such as stricter penalties for lying on a gun background check or tougher penalties for gun trafficking.

But spokesman Jay Carney said today that it’s up to Congress to take more sweeping steps.

JAY CARNEY, White House: There are specific legislative actions that he will continue to call on Congress to take, including the assault weapons ban, including a measure to ban high-capacity magazine clips, including an effort to close the very big loopholes in the background check system in our country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The president will draw on recommendations from Vice President Biden, who has met with everyone from victims’ groups to the National Rifle Association.

In the meantime, some states are forging ahead on their own. The New York legislature moved today to adopt the nation’s toughest gun control bill. The measure broadens the definition of assault weapons under an existing ban and limits ammunition magazines to seven rounds.

It also creates a registry for all private gun sales, and it requires that mental health professionals report patients who make credible threats to commit a gun crime.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, D-N.Y.: I am proud to be a New Yorker today. I am proud to be part of this government, not just because New York has the first bill, but because New York has the best bill. This is a complex, multifaceted problem. And this is a comprehensive bill that addresses the full panorama and spectrum of issues that come up.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Other leaders, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have joined the call for action this week at a summit on gun violence in Baltimore.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, I-New York: The rate of firearms homicide in America is 20 times higher than it is in other economically advanced nations. We have got to change that. And it has to start this week with real leadership from the White House.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Maryland and Delaware are also weighing new laws, as two new polls show national support for more gun control.

The PewResearchCenter found a majority favors banning assault weapons and tracking gun sales. And a Washington Post/ABC News survey out today found more than half of Americans support a ban on assault weapons, while nearly two-thirds would ban high-capacity magazines; 55 percent say they are for placing armed guards in schools, a measure favored by the National Rifle Association.

Violent video games have also been mentioned by both the NRA and the White House as a concern. But, today, there was new controversy over the NRA’s new practice range app for iPads and iPhones, recommended for ages 4 and up — all of this as gun and ammunition sales and attendance at gun shows have grown dramatically in the month since Newtown.

President Obama addressed that phenomenon at his news conference yesterday.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Those who oppose any common sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government’s about to take all your guns away.

And, you know, there’s probably an economic element to that. It obviously is good for business.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The president unveils his proposals tomorrow morning. He will be joined by children who wrote him letters after the Newtown attack.