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Published January 16, 2013, 04:59 PM

Obama waiting on Congress to help with gun control

Washington D.C. (ABC News) - President Obama says there's only so much he can do to reduce gun violence unless lawmakers act.

Washington D.C. (ABC News) - President Obama says there's only so much he can do to reduce gun violence unless lawmakers act.

He has used his executive powers to enact 23 measures that don't require congressional approval.

President Obama: “This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe.”

11-year-old Julia Stokes wrote to the president, the only person she thought could make a difference.

Obama: “She said, I know that laws have to be passed by congress, but I beg you to try very hard. Julia, I will try very hard.”

He's going to have to. The President is up against a congress that's very reluctant to pass comprehensive gun control. To get the ball rolling, today Mr. Obama signed 23 executive actions on gun control that don't need approval by lawmakers. They include: strengthening the national criminal background-check system and more federal research on gun violence, but the president said these are just first steps

Congress too must act, and congress must act soon.

And here's what he's pushing lawmakers to do: universal background checks for gun purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazine clips and a renewed ban on semi-automatic rifles, those so-called assault weapons.

Gun rights advocates are gearing up for a bitter fight and believe congress won't enact stricter laws. But Julia Stokes believes her voice, and those of children around the country, can bring change to stop the violence.

Julia Stokes: “I think my letter is going to do something.”

Republican lawmakers were skeptical of the President's plan. And the NRA said he was attacking firearms and ignoring children.

Karen Travers, ABC News Washington.

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