With sentiments running high in favour of stricter gun control laws, the US President Barack Obama today asked the Congress to speed up legislations for universal background checks for people trying to buy guns, and restoring a ban on military-style assault weapons.

Obama’s open appeal to the US Congress came days after he signed some 23 executive orders for stricter gun control.

Obama said while the Constitution guarantees individual right to bear arms and the vast majority of gun owners act responsibly, it is imperative to ensure that people who should not be allowed to own weapons are not able to acquire them.

“My administration is taking a series of actions right away — from strengthening our background check system, to helping schools hire more resource officers if they want them, to directing the Centres for Disease Control to study the best ways to reduce gun violence,” he in his weekly radio and web address to the nation.

“But the truth is, making a real and lasting difference also requires Congress to act — and act soon,” Obama said.

The US in recent times has witnessed a series of tragic incidents of gun owners turning their weapons on innocent people. The latest one came last month when a lone attacker went on a shooting spree at a Connecticut school, killing 20 kids and six adults.

As the nation mourned the loss of lives of children as young as five years old, the episode triggered a fresh debate on the need to strengthen gun ownership laws in the country.

Following the incident, an emotional Obama had called for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies”.

“First, it’s time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. The law already requires licensed gun dealers to perform these checks, but as many as 40 per cent of all gun purchases are conducted without one,” Obama said.

“That’s not safe, it’s not smart, and it’s not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers. An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that anyone trying to buy a gun should at least have to prove they’re not a felon, or someone legally prohibited from owning one. That’s just common sense,” he argued.

Earlier, Obama had said that America has gone through such “tragedies” too many times and the nation has to come together and take “meaningful action”.

In his radio address today, he listed out a series of steps that need to be focused upon to prevent such tragedies.

“Second, the Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines. Many assault rifles, when combined with high-capacity magazines, have one purpose and one purpose only: to fire as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible.

(This article was published on January 19, 2013)
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