Obama Calls For New Proposals For Gun Control In Wake Of Newtown Massacre

President Barack Obama announces a new task force aimed at curbing gun violence. (Getty Images)

President Obama called for new proposals for reducing gun violence during an address Wednesday.

He appointed Vice President Joseph Biden to head an inter-agency panel to come up with "a set of concrete proposals by January that I intend to push without delay," Obama said.

In the wake of the shooting deaths of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Friday, the issue of gun control, especially assault weapons and high capacity magazines, has been brought to the fore of the national discussion.

"This is a team that has a very specific task, to pull together real reforms right now," Obama said.

The panel will include members of the cabinet, Congress and other stakeholders, Obama said.

"Any single gun law can't solve all these problems," he said. "We'll take a look at mental health, schools. We know issues of gun safety will be an element of it."

In the past any effort at gun law reform has been viewed as an encroachment of the Second Amendment, Obama said, so he's looking for a thoughtful approach.

"There's a big chunk of space between what the Second Amendment means and having no rules at all," he said. "That space is what we're going to be working on to see if we can find some common ground."

Not all gun violence can be prevented, Obama said, "but that can't be an excuse not to try."

Reform will require Americans from across the political and cultural spectrum to work together.

"If we're going to change things, it's going to take a wave of Americans … standing up and saying, 'Enough,' on behalf of our kids."

In addition to reforming laws concerning military-style semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines, Congress should close a loophole that allows gun sales at gun shows without a background check, Obama said.

He also emphasized the need to improve access to mental health care.

"We need to make access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun," he said.

"This time, the words need to lead to action."

Biden was the author of the 1994 crime bill that led to a ban on assault weapons, a ban that Obama noted was supported by all living former presidents at the time, including Ronald Reagan.

"There's already a growing consensus for us to build upon," Obama said. The majority of Americans already support banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity clips, as well as [requiring] background checks before any gun purchases, he said.

Meanwhile, as detectives continue to comb through evidence and talk to people who witnessed Friday's mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the state's chief medical examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver has asked a geneticist at the University of Connecticut to join in his investigation of the killings.

Carver is awaiting toxicology testing results for gunman Adam Lanza, 20, and information that may help answer the question of why Lanza gunned down 20 first-graders and six women at Sandy Hook.

"I'm exploring with the department of genetics what might be possible, if anything is possible," Carver said Tuesday. "Is there any identifiable disease associated with this behavior?"