President Obama will offer a "comprehensive" proposal to combat gun violence on Wednesday that will include bans on assault weapons and high-capacity clips and increased background checks on gun buyers, the White House announced Tuesday.
Obama will announce his proposals at an 11:45 a.m. event Wednesday to be attended by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and members of Congress active in efforts to impose new restrictions on guns.
The president put Vice President Biden in charge of a task force to look at the problem of gun violence, and said he wanted to make recommendations to Congress by the end of January.
"Tomorrow the president and the vice president will hold an event here at the White House to unveil a package of concrete proposals to reduce gun violence and prevent future tragedies like the one in Newtown, Connecticut," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday. "They will be joined by children from around the country who wrote the president letters in the wake of that tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety, along with their parents."
Carney said the proposals would include "the assault weapons ban, including a measure to ban high-capacity magazine clips" as well as an effort "to close the very big loopholes in the background check system in our country."
The president is also expected to outline 19 executive actions that he can unilaterally take, according to Capitol Hill Democrats briefed on his plan. Those executive actions are likely to include more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws, increasing federal research on gun violence and stronger prosecutions of those who lie on gun background checks.
"I'm confident there are some steps we can take that don't require legislation," Obama said at a press conference Monday.
The executive actions could be key, as Obama's ambitious legislative package is likely to see tough resistance on Capitol Hill. Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said an assault weapons ban was unlikely to pass the House — and that the Senate would not spend time on a proposal with little chance of success. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) on Tuesday admitted an assault weapons or high-capacity magazine ban would be a hard sell among some House Democrats.
“I know that, at least on the Democratic side, I think there will be some who will vote against passing an assault-weapons ban, who would probably vote against large magazines of bullets,” said Sanchez, a liberal Democrat, in an interview with MSNBC.
“So I think it's going to be very difficult, much more difficult than most people realize,” she added.
"I'm banking on
Sammy Sosa will be in the Hall of Fame before we pass meaningful gun
legislation," Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) reportedly said on Monday.
House Republicans are lining up in opposition to any new limits on buying or owning firearms or their accessories.
"I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment," freshman Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) warned Monday in reference to Obama's gun-reform push.
Carney said Tuesday that the White House believed there was "a significant amount of interest in moving on these issues," and said Obama would be in contact with Reid as he worked to advocate his gun control plan.
"We will look to Congress to put together, you know, a legislative strategy," Carney said. "We'll work with them. And we will push for things that are hard because they're the right things to do."
But, in a concession to the difficult politics the president faces, Carney admitted that the president did not view the inclusion of the assault weapons ban as a deal-breaker as he negotiated his position.
"The president is not saying any single measure has to be a part," Carney said, adding that Obama "believes we ought to move on all of them."
Nevertheless, Carney explained that the president saw value in presenting Congress with an ambitious package.
"He is not naive about the challenges that exist, but he believes that, as he said yesterday, if even one child's life can be saved by the actions we take here in Washington, we must take those actions," Carney said.
On Monday, Obama shrugged off doubts about possible resistance on Capitol Hill.
"My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works, what should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we’re reducing the incidence of gun violence," Obama said.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said this week that congressional leaders — including Reid — should "wake up" and enact an assault weapons ban. She pointed to polls that find a majority of voters would support tougher restrictions.
"The latest polls are very, very shocking and I am thrilled. The American public has had it, whether it was Newtown or Aurora or Gabby Giffords in Arizona," Lowey, the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, said.
Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shooting that injured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six people, said Tuesday that he believes there are at least three areas of gun-related legislation that Democrats and Republicans can agree on: more strict reporting on mental-health issues, closing the “gun show loophole” by requiring universal background checks and reducing the size of ammunition clips in guns.
Barber said "the most serious aspects of this issue are going to be resolved" through legislation, not executive orders.