President Obama on Wednesday initiated a high-stakes gun-control fight with Congress and the National Rifle Association (NRA), demanding that lawmakers approve significant new restrictions on firearms in response to a string of deadly shootings.

Obama said Congress should pass bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and agree to universal background checks intended to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

He also called for lawmakers to take up new federal laws toughening penalties for gun trafficking and to provide additional funding for safety and research programs.

Obama signed 23 executive actions on Wednesday that touch on a broad range of gun issues, including efforts to improve existing background checks and gun safety and even encourage doctors to ask their patients about guns in their homes.

The plan drew immediate criticism from Republicans, with many accusing him of a power grab that trampled the Second Amendment.