The president was given a list of recommendations on Monday, addressing how to make mass shootings less likely. The list was developed by Vice President Biden.
One idea is banning assault weapons of the kind used in Newtown and in the Colorado movie theater massacre.
The president said Monday he doesn't know if Congress will reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 after 10 years on the books. And it's unclear how hard Mr. Obama will fight for that ban -- politics may argue against it.
However, at a press conference, Mr. Obama said lawmakers will have to examine their conscience after the Newtown massacre.
"The issue here is not whether or not we believe in the Second Amendment. The issue is: Are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can't walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a shockingly rapid fashion?" the president said.
Mr. Obama wants Congress to ban the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines and apply criminal and mental health background checks to firearms sold privately and at gun shows.
Other likely Biden proposals include: Billions more in funding for the background check database; increased prison sentences for gun trafficking; new federal research into gun crimes; and more information on labels of violent video games. As for the rush in many parts of the country to buy firearms Congress may ban, Mr. Obama blamed fears of government overreach.
"Part of the challenge that ... we confront is that even the slightest hint of some sensible, responsible legislation in this area, fans this notion that somehow, here it comes, and everybody's guns are going to be taken away," the president said.
Mr. Obama also said if Congress won't act, he can achieve some of his goals through executive order. The only area the president mentioned dealt with improved tracing at the federal level of guns sold to or stolen by criminals.