President Joe Biden has said the US should ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines to tackle the “carnage” of gun violence.
In a primetime speech to the nation from the White House, Mr Biden said too many everyday places in America had become “killing fields”.
He said if Congress could not outlaw such weapons, it should seek to raise the age to buy them from 18 to 21.
Mr Biden spoke after a string of mass shootings in the country.
The US president also called for expanding federal background checks and nationwide red flag laws, which allow law enforcement to remove weapons from anyone deemed dangerous.
But the prospects for Congress passing any gun control measures look uncertain, and the US Supreme Court could instead be poised to expand Americans’ gun rights in a landmark case that justices are considering.
“This is not about taking away anyone’s guns,” said Mr Biden.
“This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights,” he added. “It’s about protecting children.”
“Why in God’s name should an ordinary citizen be able to purchase an assault weapon that holds 30-round magazines, that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes?” the Democratic president continued.
Mr Biden touted a 1994 ban on assault-style weapons that he helped pass. It lapsed after 10 years, and debate has raged ever since over whether it was effective in reducing gun violence.
His remarks come in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Even as he prepared to speak on Thursday, multiple people were shot in an attack at a cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin.
Private gun ownership is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.
The extent of congressional gridlock on the issue was underscored earlier in the day during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held an emergency session to debate new gun control proposals.
Congressman Greg Steube, a Florida Republican, joined the hearing from his home via Zoom and displayed several handguns from his personal collection that he said would be banned if the legislation was passed.