Obama to unveil proposals to fight gun violence this week
U.S. president to present VP Joe Biden's 'common-sense' gun-control measures
U.S. President Barack Obama says Vice-President Joe Biden has presented him with a list of "sensible, common-sense" steps to fight gun violence, and that he would release them later this week.
Obama, speaking Monday at the White House, did not say what any of the proposals were, but reiterated his support for stronger background checks, limits on high-capacity magazine clips and a "meaningful assault weapons ban."
In his final news conference at the end of his first term in office, Obama said he didn't know whether all the gun-control measures he wants will make it through Congress, but that each person must vote with his or her conscience.
Biden was tasked to deliver new policy proposals on gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 Grade 1 students and six educators.
Biden met with a wide range of groups, including victims of gun violence, video-game manufacturers and the National Rifle Association.
Opposition from the well-funded and politically powerful National Rifle Association underscores the challenges that await the White House if it seeks congressional approval for limiting guns and ammunition.
"If there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step," he said.
Gun owners' rights not 'infringed'
Obama can use his executive powers to act alone on some gun measures, but his options on the proposals opposed by the NRA are limited without the co-operation of Congress.
"I'm confident there are some steps we can take that don't require legislation and that are within my authority as president," Obama said.
Referring to a spike in gun sales that occurs after mass shootings in the U.S., Obama said people's fears that they will have their guns taken away are misplaced.
"If you look over the first four years of my administration, we’ve tried to tighten up and enforce some of the laws that are already on the books, but it'd be pretty hard to argue that somehow gun owners have had their rights infringed."
Fiscal fight ahead
Obama also spoke about looming fiscal fights with Congress, promising not to back down in his stand-off with Republicans over the country's debt ceiling. By late February or early March, the U.S. Treasury will run out of ways to cover debts and could begin defaulting on government loans. Republicans argue America should cut spending if it wants to raise the debt limit.
Obama stressed several times that raising the debt ceiling authorizes him to pay debts on spending that has already happened, not new spending. America is not a "deadbeat" nation and should pay its bills, he said.
"The financial well being of the American people is not leverage to be used," he said. "The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."
The news conference comes one week before the president's ceremonial swearing-in and inaugural address for a second term.
With files from The Associated Press