WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to use "all the powers" of his office to push through Congress new gun-control laws -- an effort he says will be politically difficult but must be done.
Speaking at the White House five days after a gunman killed 20 children and six staffers at an elementary school in Connecticut, Obama said Americans have "a deep obligation to try" to reduce gun violence.
"We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. And as I said [before], there's no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society," Obama said.
"We're going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We're going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home, and inside our hearts."
He announced that Vice President Joseph Biden will lead a task force charged with coming up with concrete reform proposals no later than January, which he said he will pressure Congress to pass.
"The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence and prevent the worst violence," Obama said.
"That's why I've asked the vice president to lead an effort that includes members of my cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than January, proposals that I then intend to push without delay."
Obama cited opinion polls showing that a majority of Americans support a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, as well as background checks on all gun purchasers.