President Barack Obama said on Monday that he would formally present this week a list of "sensible, common sense steps" to reduce gun violence from Vice President Joe Biden and vowed to work vigorously to implement them. By Jeff Mason and Matt Spetalnick.
Though the proposals have not been made public, a rough outline of what the president hopes to pursue is clear. Obama reiterated that he would support reinstating a ban on assault weapons, stricter controls on high-capacity ammunition clips, and stronger background checks.
Biden and other members of Obama’s cabinet have held a series of meetings with officials in the weapons and entertainment industry as part of a task force requested by the president after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were killed.
Obama, who has said the day of the shooting was the worst of his presidency, told reporters at a news conference that some of the proposals would require legislation while others could be accomplished without congressional approval.
“I’m confident that there are some steps that we can take that don’t require legislation and that are within my authority as president,” Obama said. “And where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence, then I want to go ahead and take it.”
Obama is scheduled to meet with Biden and other advisers involved in crafting the proposals on Monday. Biden had said he expected to submit his ideas by Tuesday, so the president’s remarks indicated an even more accelerated schedule than the already hurried pace Biden’s team has followed to date.
A White House official said the president would present his “plan for moving forward” later in the week, but declined to pinpoint a day.
The president suggested that changes to how data on guns used by criminals is gathered and tracked could be made through an administrative action.
APPEAL TO CONSCIENCE
Obama acknowledged that some of the legislative proposals could have trouble getting through Congress, but he appealed to lawmakers to listen to their conscience once the legislative process begins.
“Members of Congress, I think, are going to have to have a debate and examine their own conscience,” he said.
“If in fact – and I believe this is true – everybody across party lines was as deeply moved … as I was by what happened in Newtown, then we’re going to have to vote based on what we think is best. We’re going to have to come up with answers that set politics aside.”
There is opposition in both major parties to restricting the access and availability of guns, although Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, traditionally are seen as being more resistant to such efforts.
Obama, a Democrat who won re-election in November, said gun enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to say his administration had infringed on their constitutional right to bear arms, and he said gun control opponents were responsible for stoking concerns that had led to long lines at gun stores.
“Those who oppose any common sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government’s about to take all your guns away,” he said.
“Those of us who look at this problem have repeatedly said that responsible gun owners, people who have a gun for protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship, they don’t have anything to worry about.” DM
Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media at the White House Briefing Room in Washington December 19, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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