Assault weapons ban, universal background checks in agenda
President Obama will roll out his proposals to stem gun violence on Wednesday, calling for a federal assault weapons ban, universal background checks for firearms purchases and a prohibition of high-capacity ammunition clips.
Obama and Vice President Biden will be joined by children who wrote the president following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month, a tragedy the White House is counting on to propel gun control measures that face an uphill battle on Capitol Hill.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to outline the recommendations, but sources familiar with the president's thinking told The Washington Examiner that in addition to calls for new laws, Obama will outline up to 19 executive actions he contends do not require congressional approval.
Obama is expected to announce a crackdown against those who lie on gun sale background checks, an expansion of record keeping for weapons purchases and harsher penalties against gun trafficking, among other executive orders.
However, it's the call for an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and restrictions on high-capacity ammunition clips that sets the stage for another standoff between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Even though the president doubted the prospects of such legislation earlier this week, the White House is opting to make the controversial push despite heavy resistance from congressional Republicans.
"It is a simple fact that there are limits to what can be done within existing law, and Congress has to act on the kinds of measures we've already mentioned, because the power to do that is reserved by Congress," Carney said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., earlier this week said he would not introduce any legislation that had no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House -- and conceded that an assault weapons ban lacked enough bipartisan support to become law.
Republicans say they would prefer to address gun violence after looming fiscal debates over the debt ceiling, federal sequester and continuing resolution to keep the government funded are addressed.
Even some moderates have voiced skepticism about pursuing major gun restrictions.
"It's hard to define what an assault weapon is and if we're just defining it by what it looks like, that doesn't do much for me," said Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.
And some Republicans said the president was overstepping his authority, with one GOP lawmaker floating the idea of impeaching Obama.
"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," said Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas.
Wednesday's announcement represents the culmination of weeks of conversations between Biden and groups on both sides of the gun control debate. Following the Connecticut shooting, Obama said he would immediately pursue reforms so as not to let the collective memories of the shooting fade and weaken his call for action.
The assault weapons ban expired in 2004, and attempts to revive it have languished since. The National Rifle Association, which has tremendous clout with both Republicans and moderate Democrats, will actively fight the bill's renewal.
Officials familiar with the president's plan also said it would include measures that address violence in movies and video games, strengthening mental-health regulations and school-safety provisions. The package will not include the suggestion by the NRA to place an armed security guard in every school.