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Obama sets January deadline for gun proposals

President Barack Obama stands with Vice President Joe Biden as he makes a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room about policies he will pursue following the Newtown, Ct., school shootings, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama stands with Vice President Joe Biden as he makes a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room about policies he will pursue following the Newtown, Ct., school shootings, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON — Spurred by a horrific elementary school shooting, President Barack Obama vowed to send Congress new policy proposals for reducing gun violence by January.

"This time, the words need to lead to action," Obama said Wednesday. He tasked Vice President Joe Biden with leading an administration-wide effort to create the new recommendations and pledged to push for their implementation without delay.

The president, who exerted little political capital on gun control despite a series of mass shootings in his first term, bristled at suggestions that he had been silent on the issue during his first four years in office. But he acknowledged that Friday's deadly shooting had been "a wake-up call for all of us."

Twenty children and six adults were killed when a man carrying a military-style rifle stormed Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Friday morning.

The president also called on Congress Wednesday to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and to pass legislation that would close the gun show "loophole," which allows people to purchase firearms from private dealers without a background check. Obama also said he wanted Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity ammunition 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."

The president's announcement Wednesday underscores the urgency the White House sees in formulating a response to the Newtown shooting. The massacre has prompted several congressional gun rights supporters to consider new legislation to control firearms, and there is some concern that their willingness to engage could fade as the shock and sorrow over the Newtown shooting eases.

Obama said it was "encouraging" to see people of different backgrounds and political affiliations coming to an understanding that the country has an obligation to prevent such violence.

Appealing to gun owners, Obama said he believes in the Second Amendment and the country's strong tradition of gun ownership. And he said "the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible."

"I am also betting that the majority, the vast majority, of responsible law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war," Obama said.

Obama also tasked the Biden-led team with considering ways to improve mental health resources and address ways to create a culture that doesn't promote violence. The departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, along with outside groups and lawmakers, will all be part of the process.

Biden's prominent role in the process could be an asset for the White House in getting gun legislation through Congress. The vice president spent decades in the Senate and has been called on by Obama before to use his long-standing relationships with lawmakers to build support for White House measures.

The president challenged the National Rifle Association, the country's most powerful gun lobby and key backer of many Republican politicians, to join the broader effort to reduce gun violence as well.

"Hopefully they'll do some self-reflection," Obama said of the NRA.

The NRA made its first comments since the shooting on Tuesday, promising to offer "meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

Obama said that while taking the necessary steps to reduce gun violence would take commitment and compromise, he said it could be achieved if Washington summons "even one tiny iota of the courage of those teachers, that principal in Newtown summoned on Friday."

Comments

kevin 1 year, 4 months ago

"new policy proposals for reducing gun violence by January." What's this about? Another Fast & Furious operation that Obama & Holder failed. What about the thousands of Mexicans that Obama & Holder killed under this stupid trick they pulled? I guess it is OK for Obama to kill people with assault weapons. And what about Obama killing people with "drones?" He didn't give those people a trial. He said they were guilty first.

Stop allowing criminals to get guns, not law-abiding citizens that have this right to bear arms under our Constitution. My friends, this is all a ploy to satisfy the Liberals that voted for Obama. You don't punish the world because of a few. You punish the few. Blame the justice system or the lenient laws & punishment for people committing crimminal acts. The government will never stop such people from obtaining weapons. IN fact, if those folks in CY had armed themselves, like this teacher who owned guns, maybe this would have been prevented. But no, a LIberal CT didn't wnat law-abiding citizesn to carry weapons. You reap what you sow.

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Stu 1 year, 3 months ago

OK, enough of this nonsense. The solution to gun violence isn't more guns! Only the gun manufacturers and the NRA profits from that approach.

Let me get this straight. The NRA's much vaunted "reasonable concession" to the gun violence crisis is to have taxpayers pay to place armed guards in kindergardens to protect us from the mess that they have created. Thanks a lot, guys.

We saw how well this approach worked during the recent incident at the Empire State building. Trained policeman shot a slew of innocent bystanders before they finally managed to down the shooter. And, despite all the guns in circulation, no one ever seems to be able to cite an instance where a mass shooting was thwarted in this way.

The Connecticut shooting also debunks the NRA's old chestnut that "if guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns." The fallacy here is that there is a clear-cut, stable, readily apparent distinction between law-abiding citizens and crooks. The mom of the Connecticut shooter was a NRA poster child: she obtained her weapons legally and taught her son how to use them safely. She never expected him to turn her guns on herself and her students. But that's the way it is in real life: law-abiding citizens can turn violent in a moment of anger, intoxication, or madness. If they have a gun at hand, the results can be deadly.

As for the NRA's claim that "guns don't kill people, people do," they are right. But guns sure make it a heck of a lot easier for whackos to kill a lot of people a lost faster. I would rather take my chances against a nutcase with a knife than a nutcase with an assault rifle any day of the week.

Finally, I wish the gun worshippers would stop whining about their precious rights for long enough to spare a thought for the rest of us. What about our right to be free from constant fear? I don't like guns, and I don't want them in my home. I don't think it's reasonable for the NRA to create a society where we have to live in fear if we venture out in public without being armed to the teeth. I find it unacceptable that we can't send our kids to the mall or the movies or their classrooms without being afraid that they will be gunned down. A civilized society doesn't allow that to happen. In other words, you don't have the right to stick your gun culture down my throat.

Gun worship is idolatry. It is elevating firearms over human life. And by letting it continue, we are guaranteeing that the massacres will continue, with each one worse than the last. Have we really sunk so low that we consider this acceptable? Do we really love guns more than our children?

And ask yourself this: if the NRA really have the facts on their side, why did they have to get their lackeys in Congress to ban the CDC from tracking statistics on gun violence -- the only topic that CDC is prohibited by law from studying? What are they so afraid of?

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kevin 1 year, 3 months ago

Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.

1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2011 - School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins.. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2011 - Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

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