WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is announcing a $500 million package of executive actions and legislative proposals aimed at reducing gun violence a month after a mass shooting in Connecticut killed 20 elementary school children.
The package includes a call on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazine and it would close loopholes in the gun sale background check system.
Obama also is signing 23 executive actions - which require no congressional approval - including several aimed at improving access to data for background checks. A presidential memorandum will instruct the Centers for Disease Control to research causes and prevention of gun violence.
In the wake of President Obama's news conference, the National Rifle Association releasted a written statement. It reads:
"Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."
In addition, Obama will nominate B. Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones currently is the acting director of the agency, and the acting U.S. Attorney assigned to the Minnesota district.
Jones took over leadership of the ATF in late 2011 - taking over as the agency was embroiled in controversy surrounding an operation against gun smuggling.
He has continued to serve in both roles, spending about half of his time in Washington and half in Minnesota.
In his first weeks as acting ATF director, Jones "hit the reset button" and assembled a team of law enforcement executives, to get the ATF back to its core mission of fighting violent crime.
His nomination must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
The President is asking Congress to expand background checks on gun buyers to include private sales and is using his executive authority to increase the information available in data banks in the background check system. The White House calls background checks the most efficient and effective way to keep guns away from dangerous individuals.
Obama wants Congress to close loopholes that permit private gun transactions to occur without background checks. The White House says nearly 40 percent of gun sales are conducted by private individuals now exempt from checking the backgrounds of buyers.
Mr. Obama is also ordering federal agencies to make "relevant data" available to the federal background check system and to remove barriers that might prevent states from providing information, particularly mental health data, for background checks.
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