"If there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try," the president said.
Twenty students and six adults were killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, killed himself during the shooting rampage. Police said Lanza also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in the home they shared before he went to Sandy Hook.
The president said, "The fact that this [violence] problem is complex, can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence, doesn't mean that we can't steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence."
Obama said he asked Vice President Joe Biden "to lead an effort to include members of my Cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than January, proposals that I then intend to push without delay. This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside.
"This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now," Obama said.
Citing specific measures, the president said, "The good news is there's already a growing consensus for us to build from. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases so that criminals can't take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won't take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.
"I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner."