US President Barack Obama today proposed sweeping gun control measures, including universal background check and ban on assault weapons, hoping that these would bring an end to deadly incidents like the Wisconsin Gurdwara shooting and Connecticut school firing.
"Along with our freedom to live our lives as we will comes an obligation to allow others to do the same. We have the right to worship freely and safely; that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin," Obama said.
"The right to assemble peacefully; that right was denied shoppers in Oregon, and moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado," Obama said, flanked by a group of children as he signed a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.
He also signed 23 executive-order measures, which do not require congressional approval.
The new proposals were unveiled after the December 14 killings in Newtown of 20 school children and six adults. On August 5, one gunman went on a shooting spree killing six Sikhs at the Wisconsin Gurdwara.
"We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system. We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them, and develop emergency preparedness plans.
We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator," he said.
At the same time, he asked the Congress to act soon and passed respective legislations in this regard.
"First, it's time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. Second, Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10 round limit for magazines," he said, adding that weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater.
"Finally, Congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as it does its job. We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the expressed purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. And we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this," he said.
At the same time, Obama noted that he believes the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms.
"I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of