First, it's time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun.
(Applause.) The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the last 14 years, that's kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. But it's hard to enforce that law when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. That's not safe; that's not smart; that's not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers.
If you want to buy a gun, whether it's from 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 is common sense. And an overwhelming majority of Americans agree with us on the need for universal background checks, including more than 70 percent of the National Rifle Association's members, according to one survey. So there's no reason we can't do this.
Second, Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines. (Applause.) The type of assault rifle used in Aurora, 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 gunman in Aurora to shoot 70 people -- 70 people, killing 12, in a matter of minutes.
Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater.
A majority of Americans agree with us on this.
And by the way, so did Ronald Reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment, who wrote to Congress in 1994 urging them -- this is Ronald Reagan speaking -- urging them to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons. (Applause.)
And finally, Congress needs to help rather than hinder law enforcement as it 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 them do this.
Since Congress hasn't confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in six years, they should confirm Todd Jones, who will be -- who has been acting and I will be nominating for the post. (Applause.)
And 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.
And let me be absolutely clear. Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. I 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 their 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 an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. 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 Newtown.
That's what these reforms are designed to do. They're common- sense measures. They have the support of the majority of the American people.