Last updated: March 17. 2013 2:55AM - 171 Views
By, MELANIE MASON, Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)

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WASHINGTON – President Obama said Monday that he will unveil a package of proposals to combat gun violence later this week but acknowledged the daunting politics of getting all the legislative components through Congress.

Speaking at a news conference on the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Obama said members of Congress are going to have to have a debate and examine their own conscience when it comes to considering gun legislation.

If everybody across party lines was as deeply moved (by the Newtown shootings) and saddened as I was, then we're going to have to vote based on what we think is best, he added.

Vice President Joe Biden and several Cabinet secretaries have compiled a list of common-sense steps to reduce gun violence, Obama said – the fruits of a nearly monthlong working group that consulted with law enforcement, gun-rights groups, mental-health advocates and gun-control supporters, among others.

Obama will discuss the recommendations with Biden over lunch Monday. The White House will reveal details of the plan later in the week.

In the White House news conference, Obama reiterated his policy priorities, which he had endorsed immediately after the latest school shooting: strengthening background checks on gun purchasers, limiting access to high-capacity ammunition magazines and an assault-weapons ban that is meaningful.

But he acknowledged the steep political challenge of pushing gun legislation through Congress, where the Republican-led House of Representatives has shown no inclination to sign on to new gun restrictions.

Will all of them get through this Congress? I don't know, the president said.

Obama said his administration also would consider administrative steps to tighten gun laws, such as improving data collection to track guns used by criminals.

The president attributed the booming gun sales occurring across the country, in part, to those who oppose any common-sense gun control or gun safety measure (having) a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government is about to take all your guns away.

Obama said his first-term record makes it pretty hard to argue that somehow gun owners have had their rights infringed.

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