Obama urges speedy action on gun control measures

Updated 17 January 2013
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Obama urges speedy action on gun control measures

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama yesterday called for speedy action on gun control measures and vowed to use "whatever weight this office holds" to make them a reality.
"We can't put this off any longer," Obama said in urging Congress to approve measures requiring universal background checks on gun buyers, and banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
Obama said every day the United States waits to act, the number of people killed from gun violence will keep growing.
"This will not happen unless the American people demand it," he said.
President Obama proposed an assault weapons ban and better background checks for gun buyers yesterday in a package of proposals to curb gun violence after the killing of 20 children and six adults in a Connecticut school a month ago.
The proposals include executive and legislative action, with the latter sure to face an uphill battle in Congress, where appetite for renewing an assault weapons ban is low.
The president's announcement comes the day after New York State lawmakers approved one of the toughest gun control bills in the United States and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into law.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who led a task force that made recommendations on the issue, presented the measures at a White House event attended by children from around the country who wrote letters to the president about gun violence and school safety.
Obama, who has said the day of the shooting was the worst of his presidency, said on Monday he would study the panel's ideas and then move forward "vigorously" on those that he endorsed, including some actions he could take without congressional approval.
A White House official said Obama had not endorsed all of the ideas put forward by Biden's team but declined to lay out specifics on what would be announced.
"The president has made clear that he intends to take a comprehensive approach," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday.
The president will ask Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, a measure to ban high-capacity magazine clips, and closing loopholes in the background check system, Carney said.
The proposals are Obama's first major foray into gun control, despite several mass shootings that have occurred during his four years in office. Gun restrictions are a divisive issue in the United States, which constitutionally protects a citizen's right to bear arms.
Biden delivered his recommendations to Obama after a series of meetings with representatives from the weapons and entertainment industries. The president requested the recommendations after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, by a 20-year-old gunman who later killed himself.
The proposals are likely to touch on mental health and could address violence portrayed in video games.
Obama has signaled his plan would include elements that did not require congressional approval. The president could take action to ban certain gun imports and bolster oversight of dealers.
The proposals are likely to draw ire from the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying group that is traditionally associated with Republicans. The NRA proposed having armed officials in schools throughout the country and has said the media and violent video games shared blame for the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
"There is common ground" with the White House, NRA President David Keene said on the PBS Newshour on Tuesday. "It is not on banning rifles that we don't think will make any difference and it is not on setting up a national gun registry."
"We have for 20 years been asking that those people who have been adjudicated to be mentally, potentially violent be put on the list of people who are not allowed to buy firearms."


86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

Updated 20 min 5 sec ago
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86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

  • Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009
  • The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades

JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”