Washington – President Obama renewed his threat Monday to use executive orders to push through controversial gun control measures with or without Congress’ blessing.
The president made his comments during the final news conference of his first term.
Obama said he is reviewing a list of recommendations from Vice President Biden on how to reduce gun violence. Obama is expected to announce the next steps on gun violence after he is inaugurated and enters his second term next week.
Gun control has made its way to the top to the president’s agenda following the Newtown, Conn., shootings in December that left 20 elementary students dead.
The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocacy groups have pushed back hard on the issue and say laws limiting the types of guns or ammunition rounds will not curb violence in schools. Instead, they say, stronger mental health laws are needed.
Neither side is backing down on the issue. In the past, the NRA has successfully managed to limit more gun control and has prevented passage of another assault-weapons ban like the one that expired in 2004. But some lawmakers say last month's school shooting, by a gunman with a legally purchased high-powered rifle, has transformed the debate and that Americans are ready for stricter gun laws.
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The NRA, with a history of punishing lawmakers who stray from its point of view, disagrees.
"When a president takes all the power of his office, if he's willing to expend political capital, you don't want to make predictions," NRA President David Keene said."You don't want to bet your house on the outcome. But I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress."
States and cities also have a say. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders had a tentative deal to enact the nation's first gun control measure since the Connecticut shooting, according to people familiar with the negotiations. That would further tighten gun laws in a state that already has among the nation's strictest. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal had not been discussed among all legislators.
And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued his vocal call for stricter gun control, urging Obama and Congress to increase background check requirements for firearms purchases and to get tougher on gun trafficking.
"These guns are not designed for sport or home defense," Bloomberg said. "They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly."
Meanwhile, U.S. senators plan to introduce a bill that would ban assault weapons and limit the size of ammunition magazines. But Republican Sen. John McCain responded with a flat-out "no" when asked Sunday on CBS whether Congress would pass a ban.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.