President Barack Obama arrives in the briefing room where he said he was 'modestly optimistic' while making a statement on fiscal cliff negotiations.. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has announced a $500 million package of executive actions and legislative proposals aimed at reducing gun violence a month after a mass shooting in Connecticut killed 20 elementary school children.
The package includes a call on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazine and it would close loopholes in the gun sale background check system.
Obama also is signing 23 executive actions -- which require no congressional approval -- including several aimed at improving access to data for background checks. A presidential memorandum will instruct the Centers for Disease Control to research causes and prevention of gun violence.
In addition, Obama will nominate Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones currently is the acting director of the agency.
Obama is asking Congress to expand background checks on gun buyers to include private sales and is using his executive authority to increase the information available in data banks in the background check system. The White House calls background checks the most efficient and effective way to keep guns away from dangerous individuals.
Obama wants Congress to close loopholes that permit private gun transactions to occur without background checks. The White House says nearly 40 percent of gun sales are conducted by private individuals now exempt from checking the backgrounds of buyers.
Obama is also ordering federal agencies to make "relevant data" available to the federal background check system and to remove barriers that might prevent states from providing information, particularly mental health data, for background checks.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.