President Obama on Gun Control: Ready to Act?

The president announced he is launching a gun-violence task force in wake of Newtown massacre.
3:00 | 12/19/12

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Transcript for President Obama on Gun Control: Ready to Act?
It may have taken a tragedy of this sandy hook magnitude to -- the gun debate back into the national spotlight but with president Obama's promise to take action today. It seems that real change could be on the horizon but what will Washington do and how quickly here's ABC's Jake Tapper. Five days after the horrific attack at sandy hook elementary school the president fleshed out what he meant when he pledged to the citizens of new town meaningful action. -- will use all the powers of this office to help advance. Efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this we won't prevent the mall. But that can't be an excuse not to -- But for years many of the president's strongest supporters have been disappointed by his relative silence and inaction. When it comes to gun violence. You have your position on renewing. Ban on semiautomatic rifles. And Senator -- -- place. But he didn't do much about it. This is not the first incident -- gun violence. Or forty years. -- -- Here's were vindictive I've been present a United States dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An auto industry on the verge of collapse two wars. I don't thing I've been on vacation I think all of us have to do some reflection. On how we prioritize. What we do here in Washington. It is precisely that reflection his aides say that brought the president to the white house press briefing -- named after former Reagan Press Secretary Jim Brady. Itself severely wounded in an act of gun violence more than thirty years ago. Today the president said that his administration would look at the mental health education. Cultural and gun control aspects of this tragedy. And a -- jeopardy appointed vice president by -- And author of the 1994 crime bill which contained a ban on some semi automatic rifles. The Biden team which will include the four relevant cabinet secretaries will report to the president's by next month he -- This is not some Washington commission this is a team that has a very specific test to pull together real reforms. Right now. The president also called on congress to take real action now banning the sale of high capacity ammunition clips closing the so called gun show loophole -- Does not require background checks for many private sales and banning the sale of what the president called military star -- assault weapons. What's the White House defined as high powered weapons they can fire hundreds of rounds in minutes. Really change things are gonna take a wave Americans mothers and fathers. Daughters and sons pastors. Law enforcement mental health professionals. And yes gun owners standing up and saying enough. On -- markets. Of course -- ban is not that simple take a look this is an M sixteen automatic rifle it's generally illegal for the public. -- can fire continuously. One pull of the trigger the bullets come nonstop. Thirty rounds in two seconds this -- ar fifteen style rifle is legal and very popular. It looked similar -- sixteen on the outside but it semi automatic. One bullet gets fired her pull of the trigger. So this legal version. Takes ten to fifteen seconds to fire off thirty rounds some -- ar fifteen style rifles were covered under the ban on semiautomatic assault weapons that Joseph Biden wrote. And that expired in 2004. But not all of them. We know so little about the -- ar fifteen style rifle used in the massacre of 26 people at sandy hook elementary. It's unclear if it would have been covered these bands are technical and complicated. And often contain many loopholes. This is difficult political terrain into which the president now threats -- said that's where he's had it. If we are not getting right. The need to keep our children safe. Then nothing else matters. This is Jake Tapper for Nightline at the white --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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