First, it should prohibit the manufacture and sale of the military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips that have been used in too many mass shootings, including in Newtown. The previous ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. While President George W. Bush supported reinstating it, Congress never acted. The time has plainly come. Banning these weapons and ammunition does not mean there will never be another mass shooting. But these weapons were designed for mass killing, not hunting or self-defense. They do not belong in our communities.

Second, the president’s legislative package should fix the broken background check system. Currently, nearly half of all gun sales in the U.S. are conducted without a background check. Criminals, the mentally ill, minors and domestic abusers are all prohibited from purchasing guns, but they all can do so as easily as attending a gun show or going online. The check takes only a few seconds, and it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights. That’s why polls show that more than 80% of gun owners support a change in law to require background checks for all gun sales.

Fixing the background check system also requires the federal government to compel states to submit all necessary records on felons, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill and others to the background check system.