Jan 16 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama revealed plans on Wednesday for America's biggest gun-control push in decades, spurred by last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
Many of Obama's proposals, which include enhanced background checks for gun buyers and the reintroduction of a ban on assault weapons, face tough opposition from gun enthusiasts led by the powerful National Rifle Association.
Below are some of the comments on gun rights and controls by key debate-shapers and observers.
PRESIDENT OBAMA, Democrat, in presenting his plan:
"I'm putting forward a specific set of proposals... And in the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality."
"Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen... I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale."
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, who led a month-long review that resulted in Obama's plan:
"No one can know for certain if this senseless act could have been prevented, but we all know we have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to diminish the prospect that something like this could happen again."
"I have no illusions about what we're up against or how hard the task is in front of us. But I also have never seen the nation's conscience so shaken by what happened at Sandy Hook. The world has changed, and it's demanding action."
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION
"The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law... Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."
SENATOR HARRY REID, Democrat, Senate majority leader:
"I am committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other aspects of violence in our society early this year. ... All options should be on the table moving forward."
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, Republican, Senate minority leader, in a statement issued by an aide:
"Senator McConnell's first test of any new legislation ... will be on whether or not it infringes on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms."
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, Independent, mayor of New York City:
"I do believe there's a way to protect your Second Amendment right to defend yourself and to have weapons for sports and at the same time, make sure that criminals, people with psychiatric problems, people with substance abuse problems, minors ... those people should not have guns in their hands."
MICHAEL NUTTER, Democrat, mayor of Philadelphia:
"This is an American issue. We have a violence problem in this country, and that is the issue that needs to be addressed... It's going to be a long hard fight. It's a fight worth fighting because saving lives is always going to be the right thing to do."
RICK PERRY, Republican, governor of Texas:
"Guns require a finger to pull the trigger. The sad young man who did that in Newtown was clearly haunted by demons and no gun law could have saved the children in Sandy Hook Elementary from his terror... Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice. Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help."
JULIA STOKES, an 11-year-old from Washington, in a letter to Obama released by the White House:
"My opinion is that it should be very hard for people to buy guns. The only thing they do is harm or kill and guns should only be used in (the) most horrible event where others will get hurt if they are not. I know that laws have to be passed by Congress but I beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed."
MICHAEL BARRETT, a Briton who lives in France and long-time salesman of guns, at the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas:
"Guns have never done me or anyone I know any harm... I honestly don't think (Obama's plan) is the answer. America should be the land of the free. They should give people access to whatever they want." (Compiled by Alina Selyukh; Reporting contributed by Thomas Ferraro and Lisa Lambert in Washington, Chris Francescani in New York and Timothy Pratt in Las Vegas; Editing by David Brunnstrom)