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Obama unveils plans to stop gun violence

  • Children who wrote the president joined him at the podium
  • He pushed for universal background checks and bans on assault weapons
  • Vice President Joe Biden: 'Our world has changed and it's demanding action'
Obama unveils plans to stop gun violence

President Barack Obama signed 23 new executive orders on Wednesday giving tools to those he believes can help curb gun violence in the country.

He highlighted four of them during a news conference:

  • Strengthen the background system for people who want to buy a gun.
  • Help schools hire resource officers, if they want them, and develop emergency preparedness plans.
  • Make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence.
  • Ask the CDC to study the best ways to reduce gun violence and ask Congress to fund research on the effects of violent video games on young minds.

He also called on Congress to pass three specific proposals:

  • Require universal background checks: “If you want to buy a gun… you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one. This is common sense,” Obama said.
  • Institute a ban on military-style assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity magazines: “Weapons designed for a theater of war have no place in a movie theater,” he said.
  • And he told Congress to help, not hinder, law enforcement as they try and do their jobs.

Join the conversation: What are we going to do about gun control?

President Obama was joined on stage by four children from around the country who had written letters to him after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. He says they were representatives of the many messages he’s received in the last month.

One child said she’s not really scared for her own safety but the safety of others, like her siblings. Another wrote: “I think there should be some changes. We should learn what happened at Sandy Hook. I feel really bad.”

Read more: NRA says we need armed guards in schools

“This is our first task as a society: Keeping our children safe,” said Obama. “This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.”

He promised to do his part and challenged Congress and the American people to do the same:

“I will put everything I’ve got into this and so will [Vice President] Joe [Biden]. but I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it.”

Watch Evening Express weeknights from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on HLN.

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