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Obama Backs New Gun Laws

President calls on Congress to ban assault rifles, high-capacity magazines


President Barack Obama is asking Congress to pass bills that would ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as require that any firearm sale be accompanied by a background check. The president’s request comes five days after the school shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that killed 27 people, including 20 children.

The president’s suggested gun control measures will likely be looked at by a working group led by Vice President Joe Biden. Obama’s proposals are his most significant to date dealing with gun violence in the U.S.

Gun-control advocates and many Democrats are pleased with Obama’s suggestions, particularly in the wake of his previous unwillingness to act on gun control. During his first term as president, there have been four mass shootings of civilians, including two this year and the shooting that severely injured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. in 2011.

The gun violence working group led by Biden will likely include key Cabinet secretaries, and is expected to present a report in January. Additionally, Obama will almost certainly address the issue in his State of the Union address.

Also under consideration are mental health initiatives and a look at what Obama called “a culture that, all too often, glorifies guns and violence.”

For those who support increased gun control, perhaps more encouraging than Obama’s words were those of Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif. and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. Thompson, a hunter and gun rights activist, said “I’ve been a hunter all my life, and there’s no reason to have a magazine that holds 30 shells.” Manchin, who has twice been endorsed in elections by the NRA, said “[w]hen Chuck Schumer says we don’t need more than 10 rounds in a clip, [critics] would be wrong to say that shouldn’t be on the table. Everything should be on the table.”

Whether the support of conservative, gun-rights advocating Democrats will be enough to get significant changes to American gun laws passed still remains to be seen, but the momentum for now seems to lie on the side of gun-control advocates.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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