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Obama calls for rethink on gun controls

US President Barack Obama has announced a commission aimed at curbing gun violence in response to last week's massacre at a Connecticut school. The president said he would push for the recommendations to be put into law.

In a lunchtime conference on Wednesday, Obama said that Vice President Joe Biden would lead the team drafting policies aimed at reducing gun violence.

Biden - a keen proponent of tighter gun controls - was set to deliver "concrete proposals" by January in response to the massacre of 26 people, including 20 children, at a Connecticut elementary school.

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"This time the words need to lead to action," said Obama. "The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence and end the worst violence."

The president said he would push legislation as soon as he received the recommendation from Biden's group, which was expected to include members of the administration as well as outside groups.

Obama said he was in favor of using technology to tighten checks on gun availability, as well as access to mental healthcare and school security. He also raised the possibility of a new assault weapons ban after a previous 10-year prohibition expired in 2004.

"It won't be easy, but that can't be an excuse not to try," said Obama. "It will take commitment and compromise but most of all it will take courage,"

The right to bear arms is seen as a fundamental part of the US constitution by many Americans. However, the killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut has prompted renewed calls for reform to America's liberal gun laws.

The gunman, Adam Lanza, opened fire on students and adults before shooting and killing himself with a semi-automatic weapon.

rc/dr (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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