READ: President Obama’s $500 million plan to end gun violence

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On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced a $500 million program to curb gun violence, calling for universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons as part of a new gun control proposal.

President Obama issued 23 executive orders that will not require congressional approval. The steps include requiring federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence, the Associated Press reported.

“To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act,” Obama said. “And Congress must act soon.”

He also will ask Congress to pass laws, including ones that would:

– require universal background checks (background checks on anyone who would buy a gun,  whether in stores or at auctions and conventions)

– restore a ban on “military-style assault weapons”

– ban gun magazines with capacities of more than 10 rounds

– tougher penalties on people who sell guns to people who aren’t allowed to have guns

Obama said we must shield our kids from gun violence, adding “their voices should compel us to change.”

President Obama was surrounded by children who wrote him letters about gun violence in the weeks following the Newtown shooting. Families of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary were also in attendance.

“This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe,” Obama said. “This is how we will be judged.”

President Obama based the proposals on recommendations from an administration-wide task force led by Vice President Biden.

CNN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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