Obama 'supportive' of assault weapons ban

The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama is "actively supportive" of efforts in Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban.

Senator plans to re-introduce legislation to reinstate the ban, which expired in 2004

U.S. President Barack Obama after speaking at a vigil for families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. A White House spokesman said Obama supports efforts to reinstate an ban on assault weapons. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama is "actively supportive" of efforts in Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban.

Obama has long backed the ban but failed to push for it throughout his first term. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, plans to introduce legislation to reinstate the ban early next year.

The Bill Clinton administration passed the last ban on assault weapons in 1994. It expired 10 years later, in 2004. Many complained about its effectiveness and perceived loopholes in the system.

In a statement on her website, Feinstein said that on the first day of the new Congress, she will introduce a bill "stopping the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of assault weapons as well as large ammunition magazines, strips and drums that hold more than 10 rounds."

Feinstein is working to gather Senate and House support for her bill.

"We must take these dangerous weapons of war off our streets," she said, citing a justice department study which found that since the 1994 ban expired, assault weapons were used in more than 450 incidents causing 385 deaths and more than 450 injuries.

Gun show 'loophole' closure

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would also support legislation to close the gun show "loophole," which allows people to buy guns from private dealers without background checks.

In 2011, Congresswoman for New York's fourth congressional district Carolyn McCarthy proposed the "gun show loophole closing act." It would have required criminal background checks on all firearms transactions occurring at gun shows, according to the bill.

The National Journal reports that the bill died after being sent to a committee, while a corresponding bill in the Senate never reached a vote.

The bill states that about 5,200 gun shows take place across the country each year, with thousands of Americans attending each event. Criminals, who have discovered that no background checks are required to purchase a gun at these shows, can attend and buy firearms, according to McCarthy's website.

The president has pledged to address gun violence in the coming weeks, following Friday's deadly shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

Obama spoke Tuesday with Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat and avid hunter who is now supportive of a national discussion on preventing gun violence.

With files from CBC News