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Obama wants gun violence measures passed in 2013

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama pledged to put his “full weight” behind a legislative package next year aimed at containing gun violence, recalling the shooting rampage that killed 20 elementary school students as the worst day of his presidency.

In an interview with NBC television's “Meet the Press” that aired Sunday, Obama voiced skepticism about the proposal by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the leading gun-rights lobbying group, to place armed guards at schools in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 deadly assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Instead, the president vowed to rally the American people around an agenda to limit gun violence, adding that he still supports increased background checks and bans on assault weapons and high capacity bullet magazines. He left no doubt it will be one of his top priorities next year.

“It is not enough for us to say, 'This is too hard so we're not going to try,'” Obama said.

“I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can't have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids,” he added. “And, yes, it's going to be hard.”

The president added that he's ready to meet with Republicans and Democrats, anyone with a stake in the issue.

The schoolhouse shootings, coming as families prepared for the holidays, have elevated the issue of gun violence to the forefront of public attention. Six adult staff members were also killed at the elementary school. Shooter Adam Lanza committed suicide, apparently as police closed in. Earlier, he had killed his mother at the home they shared.

The tragedy immediately prompted calls for greater gun controls. But the National Rifle Association is strongly resisting those efforts, arguing instead that schools should have armed guards for protection. Some gun enthusiasts have rushed to buy semiautomatic rifles of the type used by Lanza, fearing sales may soon be restricted.

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