WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – Just a little more than a month since the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., President Barack Obama will be unveiling his proposals to fight gun violence on Wednesday.
The White House said he and Vice President Joe Biden will be joined by children who wrote the president letters after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Lawmakers and advocacy groups are also expected to attend.
There’s still powerful opposition in Congress to sweeping gun regulations. So, congressional officials say Obama has been weighing 19 steps he could take through executive action alone.
Those steps could include ordering stricter action against people who lie on gun sale background checks. There could also be tougher penalties against gun trafficking. And schools could be given more flexibility to use grant money to improve safety.
Despite opposition from the gun lobby, Obama is vowing not to back off his support for legislation that would require congressional backing — including banning assault weapons, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and instituting universal background checks.
Obama told reporters Monday that he doesn’t know if those ideas can get through Congress — but that his “starting point is not to worry about the politics.” He says he’s focusing on “what makes sense, what works.”
“The issue here is not whether or not we believe in the Second Amendment,” Obama said. “This issue is are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can’t walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children.”
Among other steps, advocacy groups have been pushing Obama to order the Justice Department to crack down on those who lie on background checks; only a tiny number are now prosecuted. Such a step has support from the National Rifle Association, which has consistently argued that existing laws must be enforced before new ones are considered.
The president’s proposals are also expected to include steps for improving school safety and mental health care, as well as recommendations for addressing violence in entertainment and video games.
Parents of the slain Connecticut children added their voices to the national dialogue Monday. Members of the newly formed group Sandy Hook Promise called for an open-minded discussion about a range of issues, including guns.
“This is a promise to turn the conversation into actions,” said Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan was killed. “Things must change; this is the time.”
Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 and killed 20 first-graders and six adults before committing suicide as police arrived. Lanza also killed his mother at their Newtown home before driving to the school and carrying out the massacre.
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