This is the CBS news special report a presidential statement on guns I'm Dan Rick vive. In the old executive office building adjacent to the White House president Barack Obama us about it that -- when the president and vice president of the United States his response to the school massacre in Newtown Connecticut last month. And other murderous attacks using firearms vice president Joseph Biden speaks first then we'll hear from President Obama will also signs are documents. For a began the day the media. Say the families of the innocents who were murdered 33 days ago. Our heart our heart goes out you. And you show incredible courage incredible courage being here and the president hired them do everything. In our power to. Honor the memory of your children and wives what's with the work we take country today. It's been 33 days since the nation's heart was broken by the horrific and senseless violence. That took place -- and you -- elementary school. Twenty. Twenty beautiful first -- gunned down place that's supposed to be -- second sanctuary. Six. Six reasons that killed. Trying to save those children. It's literally been hard for the nation comprehend it hard to mission to -- And I know for the families who are here. Time is not measured in days. It is measured in minutes. Seconds. Since you received that news. Another minute without your daughter. Another minute. -- -- -- -- the men were about to wait another minute -- tomorrow. I want to personally Ankara. Chris human McDonnell and lost beautiful daughter grace. And the other parents who I had a chance to speak to you. Four. For their suggestions and four again just from there. The courage all of you to vote. To be here. I admire. I admired Greece. And they resolve view all show. And I must say I've been deeply affected by your faith as well. And the president are gonna do everything to try to match to resolve you've demonstrated. -- can know for certain. If this senseless act could have been prevented but we all know we have a moral obligation moral obligation to everything in our power to diminish the prospect. There's something -- could happen again. As a president who knows I've worked in this field. A long long long time in the United States senate. Having chaired a committee that had jurisdiction over these issues of guns and crime. And having drafted the first. Gun violence legislation in the last time files successes. And -- no illusions about we're up against what we're up against her how hard the task is in front of -- but I also. Have. Never seen the nation's conscience so shake. By what happened to sandy hook. The world which changed. And is demanding action. It's in this context the president asked me to put together along with cabinet members set of recommendations about how we should proceed. To meet that moral obligation we have toward that end. The cabinet members and I sat down with 229. Groups. Much as individuals represented groups. 229. Groups from law enforcement agencies to public health officials to -- -- officials to an advocacy groups to. Two sportsmen and hunters and religious leaders so. And I've spoken with members of congress from both sides of the aisle have extensive conversation with mayors and governors and county officials and the recommendations replied to the president on Monday. Call for executive actions she could sign legislation he could call for. And long term research should be undertaken there based on the emerging consensus we heard from all the groups with whom we spoke including. Some of you who were victims of this god awful. -- Ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands as well as ways to take comprehensive action to prevent violence in the first place. We should do as much as we can as quickly as you can we cannot let the perfect be the -- really good stuff. Some of what you'll hear from the president will happen immediately somewhat take some time. But we have begun and we are starting here today we resolved to continue this fight during the meeting that we held. We met with a young man -- -- I think Colin Goddard is here worry column. -- was one of the survivors of the Virginia Tech massacre he was in the classroom. He calls himself one of the lucky seven. And and he'll tell you he was shot four times on that day and he has three bosses are still inside. And when I ask Colin about what he thought we should be doing he said that he said I'm not here because of what happened to me. I'm here because of what happened to me keeps happening to other people. And we have to do something about it. Column. We will. Colin I promise -- we grow. This is our intention. We must do we can now. There's no person who is more committed. To active. On this moral obligation we have and the president of the United States of America invasion gentlemen president Barack Obama. The president of the United States at the podium in the old executive office for the so -- -- please please have a -- aggression or whatever but it. What -- begin by thanking. Our vice president Joseph but. For your dedication -- to this issue for bringing so many different voices to the table. Because while reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge. Protecting our children from -- shouldn't be a divisible. Over the month since the tragedy in Newtown. We've heard from so many and obviously none. Have affected us more than the fairways. Of those gorgeous children. And -- teachers and guardians who. Who were lost and and so we're grateful to all of you for taking the time to be here and recognizing that we honor the memories in part by doing everything we can prevent this from happening again. Four we also heard from some of -- unexpected people in particular let's start getting a lot of letters from kids. Former -- pay -- for its. Julius stokes. In his ER and take your good. They're pretty representative of some of the messages that I got these are some pretty Smart letters from. Some pretty Smart young people. Give up a third grader -- and -- you. Get a wrote. I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children. I love my country. And I want everybody to be happy and safe. And then grabs. -- -- said I think there should be some changes. We should learn from what happened that sandy hook. I feel really bad. And then Julius said. -- -- I'm not scared for my safety I'm scared for others. I have four Brothers and sisters and I know I would not be able to bear the thought. Of losing and it. These are kids. Is what they're thinking about. And so what. We should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for that. And shield them from -- And give them the tools they need to grow up. And do everything but they're capable of doing not just pursue their own dreams but to help build this country. This is our first task is a society. Keeping our children -- This is how. We will be judged. And their voices. Should compel us to change. That's why last month I ask -- to lead an effort along with members of my cabinet. Come up with some concrete steps we can take right now. To keep our children -- To help prevent mass shootings. To reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country. And we can't put this off any longer. Just last Thursday as TV networks were covering one of Joe's meetings. On this topic. News broke of another school shooting this one in California. In the month. Since when he precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us sandy -- elementary. More than 900. Of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of ago. -- -- In the past month. And every day we wait. That number will keep -- So I'm putting forward. A specific set of proposals. Based on the work. But -- task force. And in the days ahead I tend to use whatever -- this office holds. To make them real. Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent. Every senseless act of violence completely. No piece of legislation that will. Prevent. Every tragedy every act of -- If there's even one thing we can do. To reduce this violence. If there's even one life that can be -- We got an obligation to try. I'm gonna do my part. As soon as I'm finished speaking here -- sort of bad basketball signed a directive giving law enforcement. School's mental health professionals and the public health community. Some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence. We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening. The background checks just. We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them. And develop emergency preparedness points. We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence. Even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime and the perpetrators. And one year after year. Those who oppose even modest gun safety measures have threatened to defund scientific or medical research into the cause of gun violence. I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce. And congress should fund research. Into the effects that violent video games have on young minds. We don't benefit from ignorance. We -- benefit from not knowing. The science. This -- epidemic of violence. These are few of the 23 executive actions that I am announcing today but as important as these steps are. They are in no way substitute. For action from members of congress. To make a real and lasting difference. Congress to Maastricht. And congress must facts are. I'm calling on congress to pass some very specific proposals. Right away. First it's time for congress to acquire a universal background check for anyone trying to buy got. -- Law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks and over the last fourteen years that's kept one point five million of the wrong people from getting their hands on the got. But it's hard to enforce that law -- as many as 40% of all gun purchases. Are conducted. Without a background -- That's not safe. It's not Smart. It's not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers. If you want a -- got. Whether it's probably a licensed dealer or a private seller you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally. Prohibited from buying one. This common sense. And an overwhelming majority of Americans agree -- us. On the need for universal background checks including more than 70%. Of the national rifle association's members according once or. So there's no reason we can't do this. Second. Congress should restore ban on military style assault weapons. And a ten round limit from magazines. The type of assault rifle used in a roar for example. When paired with. High capacity magazines has one purpose. To pump out as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible. To do as much damage. Using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage. And that's what allowed the government -- to shoot seventy. People. Suddenly people killing twelve. In a matter of minutes. Weapons design for the theater of war. Have no place in a movie theater. A majority of Americans agree with a -- And by the way so did Ronald Reagan. One of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment who wrote to congress in 1994. Urging that this is Ronald Reagan's feet. Urging them to listen to the American public into law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacturer of military style assault weapons. And finally congress needs to help rather than hinder law enforcement as does its job. We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. And we should severely punish anybody who helps. -- -- Since congress hasn't confirmed director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in six years. They should confirm. Todd Jones will be. Who has been acting and I will be nominating for the post. -- at a time when budget cuts are forcing many communities to reduce their police force. We should put more cops back on the job and back on our streets. -- -- -- -- Like most Americans I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. A respect our strong tradition of gun ownership. And the rights of hunters and sportsmen. There are millions of responsible law abiding gun owners in America who cherish the right to bear arms for hunting or sport. Or protection. Or collection. I also believe most gun owners agree. That we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping. And irresponsible law breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive -- I believe most of them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. There would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in new -- That's what these reforms are designed to do their common sense measures. They have the support of the majority of the American people. And yet that doesn't mean any of this is going to be easy to enact or implement. If -- were -- already have universal background checks. The ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines -- have been allowed to expire. More of our fellow Americans. Might still be -- celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduation it's. This will be difficult. There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists public. What we warning of what to read too radical all out assault on liberty. Because that's true. But because. -- -- gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. And behind the scenes they'll do everything they can. To block any common sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever. The only way we will be able to change is if there audience their constituents. Their membership. Says this time must be different. At this time we must do something to protect our communities and markets. I won't put. Everything I've gotten to this so we'll know. But I tell you. The only way we can change. That the American people demand. And by the way that doesn't just mean. From certain parts of the country. We're gonna need voices. In those areas and those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong. To speak up and say this is important. It can't just be the usual suspects. We have to examine ourselves and our hearts. And I ask ourselves what is important. This will not happen unless the American people demand it. If parents and teachers police officers and pastors. -- hunters and sportsmen. Responsible gun owners if Americans of every background stand up and say. Enough. We suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continue. Then change walk. -- -- -- That's what's gonna tech. On the letter that. Julia wrote me she said. I know that laws have to be passed by congress. But I beg you to try very -- Usually I will try very hard. But she's right. The most important changes we can make depend on congressional action. They need to for bringing these proposals operate vote. And the American people need to make short that they do. Get them on record. Pastor member of congress if they support universal background checks to keep guns -- wrong hands. Estimate they support renewing a ban on -- -- style assault weapons high capacity magazines. And if they say no. Asked them why not. Ask them what's more important. Doing whatever it takes to get there. A great from the gun lobby that fund their campaigns or. Giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first -- Yeah. Land of the free and always will be. As Americans we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights that no man or government can take -- difference. What we've also long recognized. As our founders recognized that we have rights come responsibilities. Along with -- our freedom to liberalize as we will come to an obligation. To allow others to do the same. We don't live in isolation. We live in a society. A government of by and for the people. We are responsible. For each up. Have a right to worship freely and safely that Wright was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek Wisconsin. The right to assemble peacefully. That Wright was denied shoppers. Plaque from a short and moviegoers and Aurora Colorado. That most fundamental set of rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness fundamental rights that. There were denied to college students at Virginia Tech. And high school students a column by an elementary school students in new -- And kids on street corners in Chicago. On to frequent -- basis to tolerate. All the families who never imagined. If they lose a loved ones to a bullet. Those rights are at -- Were responsible. And when I visit Newtown last month I spent some private time where many of the families who lost their children that day and one was the family of grace McDonnell. Racist parents are here. -- seven years old when she was struck down. Gorgeous. Caring. Shortfall will -- I'm told you what -- She loved the beach. She dreamed of becoming a pain. And so just before it left. Chris. Her father. Gave me -- repayments. And I hung it in my privates study just up the Oval Office. And every time I look at that thing I think about race. I think about the life that she left. And the life that way ahead of her. And most of all I think about how when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us. We must act now. For rights. For the 2.5 other innocent children and devoted educators. Who had so much left to give. For the men and women in big cities and small towns of fall victim to senseless violence each and every day. For all the Americans were counting on us. To keep them safe from -- Mr. right back. Let's do the right thing for them. And for this country that we love so much. Thank you. We're. Trying to. President Obama at a podium in the old executive office building adjacent to the White House. Listening to live coverage from CBS news. The president now has high fives for young people. Yes school pupils who wrote to him about the subject of gun's safety he quoted some of their remarks as you heard. And each each of these young Americans as a parent behind them. Another president is sitting in front of them at a table. With his left hand using a pen signing executive orders we -- to CBS news White House correspondent Niedermayer. What are these orders what -- you -- Well the president is. Okay. The work that's necessary for these. Executive actions that the White House insists does not require. Congressional approval aimed at curbing gun violence. I think foremost. One that will help schools to hire police officers if they so choose. And we have to -- differentiate that from the NRA's call for armed guards or armed personnel in all schools. This would be funding to help the systems that choose to have armed people law. On the premises. The president also pointedly mentioned. That he is ordering these Centers for Disease Control to launch research into the causes of gun violence possible links to media violence. Congress at the urging of the gun lobby over the years. As. Held up the funding has blocked it and the administration says that that -- attorneys have determined. That congress doesn't have the right at certain committee certain members of congress. Don't have the right to block that kind of research so that is a big part of among the 23 executive orders that the president. Signed the paperwork for here today and very quickly Dan. While the assault weapons ban. Is been the big thing that day has gotten a lot of the attention. We were told that by senior officials who helped to formulate this proposal. Speaking to them just before the president came out. That the single most important thing that can be done in their estimation to prevent gun violence and mass shootings like the one in Newtown. Is to enact background checks for all guns sales about 40% of all gun sales are so called private transactions many of them done. At flea markets and at gun shows one official told us that it. Gun shows there are people who actually displayed signs that say no background check needed here. And the White House wants to close that loophole. OK and so that's one of the steps will be hearing about 23. In a document the president signed also including nominating a director for alcohol tobacco and firearms that that position has technically been. Vacant for six years and Peter one last thing before you go the president said that congress needs to act. For instance as you said to require universal background checks for all gun purchases. Also to restrict the number of bullets and ammunition clips. And to bring back an assault weapons ban. As far as you understand if from White House officials do they expect congress to act quickly. Well you heard the president say that in several different ways several different times during this yes -- they do expect congress to act quickly will let. That is doubtful you already have some prominent Democrats who say they wanna take their time including the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont. So it's going to be a long process. And the president and the people around him certainly do not underestimate the fighting -- and again we have to emphasized. This is a two track thing we mentioned the executive orders on research and so forth but again. The background checks the assault weapons ban the limits that to ten rounds in via high capacity. Ammunition magazine. All of that would have to be approved by congress the president cannot order those things. CBS news White House correspondent Peter -- a lot more coverage as the day goes on. On the radio stations that carry CBS news. And also -- radio dot com and you can find us on the Internet and on the CBS radio news app. For now this has been a CBS news special report a presidential statement on guns with Peter -- Dan -- of CBS news.