Five days after deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history, President Obama said his administration plans immediate action early next year on proposals to curb an “epidemic of gun violence.”
President Obama on Wednesday at the news conference announced the formation of a task force to be headed by Vice President Joe Biden that will formulate a package of policy recommendations by January.
Biden was a key author of a crime bill in 1994 that put more cops on the streets and banned assault weapons. The assault weapons ban expired in 2004, and after Newtown there are renewed calls to reinstate it.
The 1994 Crime Bill included the ban on certain types of semi-automatic rifles (better known as the “assault weapons ban”) and new classes of people banned from owning or possessing firearms, in addition to expanding the federal death penalty and the Violence Against Women Act.
Gun control measures have faced fierce resistance in Congress for years but that may be changing now because of last week’s violence. Since then, Obama has signaled for the first time in his presidency that he’s willing to spend political capital on the issue and some prominent gun-rights advocates on Capitol Hill – Democrats and Republicans alike – have expressed willingness to consider new measures.
It has also been pointed out by the president a ban on assault weapons, which he called “weapons of war,” is something he supports as well as a limit on high-capacity clips and more stringent background checks. But he cautioned that “no law or set of laws” can prevent all violence.
The President made clear that this is a complex issue, and that solutions must be wide-ranging and include everything from access to mental health services to confronting a culture that at times glorifies violence. But he also made clear that the price of doing nothing is much too high for our country to bear.
“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 that we can’t steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence.”
The move marks the first concrete step by the White House toward crafting new firearms restrictions. The president did not announce any major policy decisions on Wednesday, but said the task force of Cabinet officials and outside organizations led by Biden would submit legislative proposals to him no later than January.
The president said he intends to push for implementation of the proposals “without delay.”
The Huff Post says, the president has called for a national dialogue on gun violence before, after other mass shootings during his presidency. But his rhetoric has not been backed up with concrete action. And some of the gun measures Obama has signed lessened restrictions on guns, allowing people to carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked bags on Amtrak trains.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that Obama is “actively supportive” of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s, D-Calif., push to bring back the assault-weapons ban. He also said the president supports closing the so-called gun show loophole, as the Fox News reports.