The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 16, 2013

Obama to unveil gun violence measures

(Continued)

Nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the shootings in Connecticut, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed into law the toughest gun control law in the nation, and the first since the Connecticut school shootings. The law includes a tougher assault-weapons ban and provisions to try to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people who make threats.

According to a lobbyist briefed Tuesday, Obama will present a three-part plan focused on gun violence, education and mental health. He'll call for:

— A focus on universal background checks. Right now some 40 percent of gun sales take place without background checks, including by private sellers at gun shows or over the Internet, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

— A ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds or fewer.

— A federal statute to stop "straw man" purchases of guns and crack down on trafficking rings.

— More anti-bullying efforts; more training for teachers, counselors and principals; and funding for schools for more counselors and resource officers.

Obama also will order federal agencies to conduct more research on gun use and crimes, the lobbyist said, something Republican congressional majorities have limited through language in budget bills.

On mental health, Obama will focus on more availability of mental health services, training more school counselors and mental health professionals, and mental health first aid training for first responders, according to the lobbyist, who was not authorized to discuss the plan publicly before the president's announcement and requested anonymity.

The president's framework is based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden, who led a wide-ranging task force on gun violence. The vice president's proposals included 19 steps that could be achieved through executive action.

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