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President Obama unveils $500 million gun violence package, 23 executive actions

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

But Democrats are hopeful they can build consensus around the president's call for universal background checks. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says 40 percent of gun sales are conducted with no criminal background checks, such as in some instances at gun shows or by private sellers over the Internet or through classified ads.

The NRA is opposed to all three measures. In a statement Wednesday, the gun lobby said, "Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected" by Obama's efforts and the nation's children "will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."

And on the eve of Obama's announcement, the NRA released an online video accusing him of being an "elitist hypocrite" for sending his daughters to school with armed Secret Service agents while opposing having guards with guns at all U.S. schools.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the video "repugnant and cowardly."

The president's proposals did include a $150 million request to Congress that would allow schools to hire 1,000 new police officers, counselors and psychologists. The White House plan also includes legislative and executive action to increase mental health services, including boosting funding for training aimed at getting young people into treatment more quickly.

A lopsided 84 percent of Americans back broader background checks, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws, the same poll showed, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows.

The NRA and pro-gun lawmakers have long suggested that violent images in video games and entertainment are more to blame for mass shootings than the availability of guns. But Obama's proposals do little to address that concern, other than calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research links between violent images and gun attacks.

Government scientists have been prohibited from researching the causes and prevention of gun violence since 1996, when a budget amendment was passed that barred researchers from spending taxpayer money on such studies.

The administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for expanded research.

Obama also wants lawmakers to ban armor-piercing ammunition, except for use by the military and law enforcement. And he's asking them to create stiffer penalties for gun trafficking, to provide $14 million to help train police officers and others to respond to shootings, and to approve his nominee to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

One of the president's executive actions on Wednesday was to nominate B. Todd Jones to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2006. Jones has served as the bureau's acting director since 2011.

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.

EXECUTIVE ORDER:

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