Congress must "act soon" on guns, Obama says

President Obama redoubled his push to reduce gun violence in his weekly address today, pressuring Congress to "act soon" on a series of "concrete steps we should take to protect our children."

"My administration is taking a series of actions right away," Mr. Obama said, briefly describing several of the 23 executive orders he signed on Wednesday, "But the truth is, making a real and lasting difference also requires Congress to act - and act soon."

"First, it's time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun," Mr. Obama said, noting that "As many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without one."

"That's not safe, it's not smart, and it's not fair to responsible guy buyers or sellers," the president said.

He also called for a renewal of the ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit on the size of ammunition magazines. "These weapons have no place in our communities," Mr. Obama said, "And a majority of the American people agree with me."

Finally, Mr. Obama said, beyond additional gun control, we need to examine enforcement of gun laws, and "make it easier, rather than harder, for law enforcement to do its job." He suggested instituting tougher penalties for illegal gun trafficking and hiring additional police officers to keep communities safer.

"Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms," Mr. Obama said. "But I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from causing harm on a massive scale."

And "none of this will be easy," the president promised, singling out opponents who have called his gun violence agenda "an all-out assault on liberty."

"But this time, it can't be up to them. It's got to be up to you," Mr. Obama said. "Ask your member of Congress...why an A-grade from the gun lobby is more important than keeping kids safe in a first grade classroom."

"Let's get this done," he said, "and let's make this country a safer place for all our children to learn and grow."