By Justin Sink - 01/14/13 05:23 PM EST
President Obama said Monday he would outline his plan to reduce gun violence by the end of the week, but he declined to say whether an assault weapons ban would be central to that effort.
"My starting point is not to worry about the politics," Obama said when asked about congressional opposition to an assault weapons ban during a press conference at the White House.
But while he encouraged members of Congress to "vote their conscience," the president refused to say whether he viewed an assault weapons ban as essential.
"I'll give a fuller presentation later in the week," Obama said.
"I'm confident there are some steps we can take that don't require legislation," Obama said.
But he stressed such actions would be limited in scope, and blasted opponents of the effort for "ginning up fear" among gun owners.
“We’ve seen for some time now that those who oppose any common-sense gun-control or gun-safety measure have 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.”
"Responsible gun owners ... they don't have anything to worry about," Obama said.
The White House on Friday said that the president would continue to push for an updated version of the assault weapons ban as part of the legislative package despite reports that the White House might abandon the effort because it was not likely to garner congressional support.
Obama said Monday he supports a ban but refused to say if passage through Congress would be a yardstick for success.
The White House’s gun agenda is likely to come up against strong opposition from congressional Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
"We will engage our members," NRA President David Keene told CNN on Thursday, accusing the White House of simply "checking a box" during a meeting with gun activists.
"They were able to say we've met with the NRA, we've met with the people that are strong Second Amendment supporters," Keene said.
But the White House also believes the shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 20 children and six school employees dead helped to crystallize the issue of gun violence among American voters.
Polls suggest there could be public support for some actions on gun control.
In a poll by The Hill released Monday, nearly half of all respondents (49 percent) said gun laws were too lax, versus 35 percent who said they were "about right" and 11 percent of voters who said restrictions were too strict. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they believed it was likely or somewhat likely that some action would be taken on gun control, and a plurality — 47 percent — said the tragedy in Newtown had made them more supportive of tighter gun controls.