President Barack Obama this afternoon outlined 23 executive actions he says will ensure Americans' safety by curbing gun violence, but admitted the process will be difficult as further measures will need to be taken up on Capitol Hill.
Included in the president's legislative proposals are a universal background check for anyone trying to purchase a firearm, a ban on military-style assault weapons, a 10 round limit on magazines, tougher punishments for those who sell guns to criminals and expanded efforts to study the mental health link to gun violence.
"This is our first task as a society: Keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged," Obama said.
Among the president's executive orders is a directive that would allow access to data for background checks.
He will also instruct the Centers for Disease Control to study the cause of gun violence and how to prevent it.
Additionally, President Obama said he plans to nominate acting director of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives B. Todd Jones to head the agency.
The president's orders and proposals come from recommendations made by Vice President Biden's task force.
President Obama said the measures can be accomplished by respecting the Second Amendment while preventing future tragedies such as the Newtown, Connecticut massacre.
He also said the changes will not happen unless the American people demand it.
President Obama's remarks come just a day after Governor Andrew Cuomo approved what's being called the toughest gun law in the nation.
It was passed by the State Assembly on just the second day of the 2013 legislative session.
The sweeping package expands the current assault weapon ban by changing the definition of what is considered an assault weapon.
It limits the size of gun magazines to seven bullets and closes the so-called gun show loophole by requiring background checks for private gun sales.
It also contains tougher penalties for those who use illegal guns in a crime, and expands Kendra's Law, allowing judges to require treatment for people with mental illness.
"Let's at least learn from what's happened. Let's at least be able to say to people yes, we went through terrible situations, but we saw, we learned, we responded, and we acted and we're doing something about it. We are not victims, we can strike back, we can defend ourselves, but we're going to do it intelligently," Cuomo said.
Owners of previously legal semi-automatic rifles will be allowed to keep their weapons but will have to register them within one year.
Those weapons cannot be re-sold.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the new law, saying it's a move in the right direction.
Gun rights advocates say it will do nothing to prevent violence while only hurting law abiding gun owners.