President Barack Obama has signed a bill to allow states to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and ammunition clips, all items that have been banned under the National Rifle Association-backed 1994 assault weapons ban.
“I am very pleased to sign this bill into law,” Obama said Thursday in a White House ceremony in the East Room.
The bill allows the president to suspend the National Firearms Act (NFA) for 30 days, the length of time it has been in effect, but he can veto it.
It also makes it a crime for federal officials to seize or distribute weapons that are not legal under federal law.
The bill will also allow states and localities to ban certain magazines and other items.
Gun control advocates had lobbied Obama to sign the bill, which would have been the first such ban passed by the president in his first term.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The measure passed the House on June 26 and is awaiting a Senate vote, which is expected this week.
The law would also expand background checks to gun shows, and would require people to get background checks from licensed gun dealers, as well as mental health and substance abuse screenings, to be able to buy a gun.
In addition, gun sales would be limited to those that are approved by federal, state and local officials.
Obama signed the measure into law on Thursday afternoon at the White House.
The NRA opposes the legislation and has vowed to fight it in court.
NRA spokesman Steven Milloy said in a statement that the bill “represents a massive step backwards for the Second Amendment.”
“It will mean that criminals will no longer be able steal guns and will now be able purchase them legally,” Milloy wrote.
Milloy also said that Obama’s administration had failed to address the issue of mental health in recent months, as Congress had passed new gun control measures.
A study released this week by the Violence Policy Center, a Washington-based group, found that fewer than 1 percent of gun deaths in the United States in 2014 were the result of mental illness.
The study found that one in seven people in the U.S. had been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
Milloy said the NRA is urging the Supreme Court to overturn the law.
“This is a bill that has nothing to do with guns, it’s a bill about protecting the Second, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments,” Millor said.