Update: Obama backs gun limits, concedes tough fight ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama

endorsed controversial bans on assault weapons and high-capacity

ammunition magazines

on Monday, as well as stricter background checks for gun buyers —

but conceded he may not win approval of all in a Congress

reluctant to tighten restrictions.

"Will all of them get through this Congress?

I don't know," said Obama. He said lawmakers would have to "examine

their own

conscience" as they tackle gun control legislation after the

horrifying Connecticut school shootings but in the face of opposition

from the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun rights

groups.

Obama spoke at a midday White House news conference one month after the Newtown elementary school rampage, which ignited a

national discussion on preventing mass shootings.

The president said he would unveil a

comprehensive roadmap for curbing gun violence within days. His plan

will be based on

recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden's gun task force and

is expected to include both legislative proposals and steps

Obama can implement by himself using his presidential powers.

But the most sweeping and contentious

elements — including an assault weapons ban — will require approval from

a Congress

that has been loath to tackle gun control legislation for more

than a decade. The politically powerful NRA has vowed to fight

any measure that would limit access to guns and ammunition, a

hardline position that could sway some Republicans and conservative

Democrats.

Despite the opposition, Obama said he would "vigorously pursue" measures to tighten gun laws.

"My starting point is not to worry about the politics," he said.

The president's new resolve follows a lack

of movement in tackling gun violence throughout much of his first term,

despite

several high-profile shootings. He called the Dec. 14 massacre of

20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School

the worst day of his presidency and vowed to take action.

Parents of the slain Connecticut children

added their voices to the national dialogue Monday. Members of the newly

formed

group Sandy Hook Promise called for an open-minded discussion

about a range of issues, including guns, mental health and safety

in schools and other public places.

And lawmakers in New York state pressed

ahead with what would be the nation's first gun control measure approved

since the

school shootings. Among the items in a tentative agreement in the

state Legislature are further restrictions on the state's

ban on assault weapons, limits on the size of magazines to seven

bullets, down from the current 10, and more stringent background

checks for sales.

White House officials believe moving swiftly

on gun proposals at a national level, before the shock over the Newtown

shooting

fades, gives Obama the best chance to get his proposals through

Congress. Several pro-gun rights lawmakers, including Democratic

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Rep. Jack

Kingston of Georgia, said in the days following the shooting that

they were open to discussing possible control measures.

Seeking to keep up the pressure on lawmakers, Obama said Monday that if "everybody across party lines was as deeply moved

and saddened as I was by what happened in Newtown, then we're going to have to vote based on what we think is best."

Officials said Obama and Biden met Monday

afternoon to discuss the vice president's recommendations. Ahead of that

meeting,

Biden huddled with a dozen House Democrats who have formed their

own gun violence task force and whose political muscle will

be needed to push legislation through Congress.

The president, without mentioning the NRA, said some gun rights groups have "a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on

the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government's about to take all your guns away,"

Seeking to ease those fears, Obama insisted that responsible gun owners who have weapons for protection or hunting "don't

have anything to worry about" under the proposals he will push.

The assault weapons ban, which Obama has

long supported, is expected to face the toughest road on Capitol Hill.

Congress passed

a 10-year ban on the high-grade military-style weapons in 1994,

but supporters didn't have the votes to renew it once it expired

in 2004.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Friday predicted that a ban might win Senate approval but he doubted it could

pass in the Republican-led House.

Obama will also need congressional help to

limit high-capacity ammunition magazines, like the ones used by the

Newtown shooter,

and to require background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a

gun. Some gun control advocates, including The Brady Campaign

to Prevent Gun Violence, are urging Obama to make the broader

background checks his top priority, believing it has the best

chance of winning congressional approval.

The Brady Campaign said some 40 percent of gun sales happen with no background checks, such as at gun shows and by private

sellers over the Internet or through classified ads.

Among the executive actions Biden is

believed to have recommended to Obama are tougher penalties for people

who lie on background

checks, elevating gun trafficking to a felony charge and ending

limits that make it harder for the federal government to research

gun violence.

The president's proposals are also expected

to include steps for improving school safety and mental health care, as

well as

recommendations for addressing violence in entertainment and video

games. Pro-gun rights groups, including the NRA, have long

insisted that insufficient mental health care and violent images

are more to blame for mass shootings than the availability

of guns.

A Democratic lawmaker who met with Biden

Monday said the vice president was likely to have given Obama proposals

for allowing

schools flexibility in spending federal grant money so they could

take steps toward safety, including hiring school resource

officers, instituting mental health intervention or making repairs

like putting locks on doors. Grants could also go to communities

to institute programs to get guns away from people who shouldn't

have them, said the lawmaker, adding these were steps the

president could take without Congress.

The lawmaker spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposals hadn't been announced publicly.

Underscoring the political tensions

surrounding gun legislation, Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman said

he would file articles

of impeachment if Obama used executive orders "to infringe on our

constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms."

Biden's recommendations to the president followed weeks of wide-ranging talks with key stakeholders, including gun victim's

groups, the entertainment and video game industries and gun owner advocacy groups.