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Obama to tackle firearms violence in 2016, plans unilateral gun control steps

US President Barack Obama has made fighting gun violence his main resolution for 2016 in a New Year’s Day address, saying it is a major piece of "unfinished business" for his White House administration.

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Obama to impose new gun-control curbs

Marking the start of his final year as president, Obama said he regretted that little progress had been made over the past seven years toward remedying the gun "epidemic" that sees more than 30,000 lives lost in America each year; over half of them suicides.

"My New Year's resolution is to move forward on our unfinished business as much as I can," he added. "That's especially true for one piece of unfinished business that is our epidemic of gun violence."

Obama used the recorded address to say how frustrated he was by Congress' inaction on gun control, adding he will meet with US Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to talk about halting gun violence and reducing the toll of deaths from firearms in ways that do not require the approval of lawmakers.

The president upped the pressure on Congress to pass gun control legislation following the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and again after mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and San Bernardino, California, in December.

"A few months ago, I directed my team at the White House to look into any new actions I can take to help reduce gun violence," Obama said in the address.

"And, on Monday, I'll meet with our attorney general, Loretta Lynch, to discuss our options."

Obama is expected to resort to the use of executive powers which would permit him to unilaterally impose particular anti-firearms measures.

The president said measures would be discussed to focus on "keeping an irresponsible, dangerous few from inflicting harm on a massive scale."

Obama will reportedly unveil is executive action plans next week.

With a population of 318 million, there are more guns than inhabitants in the US, according a recent Congressional Research Service report.

The president's address came as Texas law came into effect allowing licensed gun owners to openly carry handguns in public places.

jlw/bk (Reuters, AFP)

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