President Barack Obama has unveiled wide-ranging measures aimed at curbing gun violence.
The proposals could echo measures, considered the toughest in the nation, passed in New York State on Tuesday.
Barack Obama has said he favors bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as broader background checks.
The US gun control debate has been revived by last month’s mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.
There, a gunman shot dead 27 people, including 20 children and his own mother.
At 11:45 EST on Wednesday, Barack Obama is expected to unveil the new proposals at the White House, flanked by children who wrote him letters after the Newtown shooting.
Barack Obama has already acknowledged his proposals will face stiff opposition in Congress. But he is said to be weighing as many as 19 specific measures he could take through unilateral executive action.
These could include tougher punishment of gun trafficking, aggressive prosecution of people who lie on background checks, and an end to limits on government research into gun violence.
The US top gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA) says it will fight any attempts to limit access to guns or ammunition.
Barack Obama’s expected proposals are the result of a task force led by Vice-President Joe Biden, who met the president on Monday and Tuesday to share the group’s recommendations.
The Biden task force held meetings with gun control advocates and firearms owners’ groups, as well as representatives of the entertainment industry.
On Tuesday, the New York state legislature comfortably passed the first gun control law since the shootings in Newtown. Supporters said the state’s firearms restrictions were now the tightest in the nation.
“Common sense can win,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said.
“You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason and with common sense.”
The New York measures include a wider ban on assault weapons, a law limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines, and provisions to keep guns from mentally ill people who make threats.
Some gun owners will also have to register them with authorities.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Monday evening, about half of Americans say they have grown more supportive of gun control measures since the Newtown shooting.
The poll found 58% of respondents back a ban on the most powerful rifles.
During the press conference, President Barack Obama urged Congress:
- to ban “military-style” assault weapons such as those used in several recent mass shootings
- impose limits on ammunition magazines to 10 rounds
- introduce background checks on all gun sales; currently private sales and some sales at gun shows are exempt
- pass a ban on possession and sale of armour-piercing bullets
- introduce new gun-trafficking laws
- Finally approve the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Barack Obama added he would sign a directive so that government agencies can conduct research into gun crime
Among the unilateral steps Barack Obama pledged to take was to end a ban on gun-violence research by a prominent federal agency.
Barack Obama acknowledged his legislative push would encounter stiff opposition in Congress.
“This will be difficult,” he said.
“I will put everything I’ve got into this.”