"This time, the words need to lead to action," said Obama, who set a January deadline for the recommendations.
The president, who exerted little political capital on gun control during his first term, also pressed Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. He also called for stricter background checks for people who seek to purchase weapons and limited high capacity clips.
"The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing," Obama said. "The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence."
Obama's announcement Wednesday underscores the urgency the White House sees in formulating a response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children and six adults were killed when a man carrying a military-style rifle stormed an elementary school.