Gun rights: What can Obama do? What might he do?
President Obama has vowed to use 'whatever power this office holds' to prevent future mass shootings, following last Friday's tragedy in Newtown, Conn. That could mean action beyond gun rights.
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But President Obama has also made clear that he is going to take a little time first to figure out exactly how to proceed. The message: Dealing with the mass shootings that have been occurring with alarming regularity is not just about gun control, or law enforcement, or mental health services. It’s about all of the above, and more.
On Sunday night, speaking at an ecumenical prayer service at Newtown High School, Mr. Obama vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to prevent future such tragedies, but did not offer specifics. On Monday, at his daily White House briefing, spokesman Jay Carney also declined to elaborate on what might be under consideration, but his message was “stay tuned,” not “stop asking.”
“It's a complex problem that will require a complex solution,” Mr. Carney said. “No single piece of legislation, no single action will fully address the problem.”
Carney also reinforced the president’s message from Sunday, which is that he intends to engage lawmakers, law-enforcement officials, mental-health professionals, and educators in addressing the issue of gun violence. Obama noted in his remarks that the massacre Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 26 people were killed, was the fourth time as president he has come to comfort a grieving community beset by a mass shooting.
“We’re not doing enough,” Obama said. “And we will have to change.”
Last Friday, Carney reaffirmed that the president still supports renewal of the assault-weapons ban that was in force from 1994 to 2004, but on Monday was not willing to discuss any proposals for a new ban. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California, author of the expired assault-weapons ban, said on Sunday that she would introduce new legislation in January, on the first day of the new Congress.
“It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession. Not retroactively but prospectively,” Senator Feinstein said on NBC's “Meet the Press.” “And it will ban the same for big clips, drums, or strips of more than 10 bullets.”
The weapons reportedly used by Adam Lanza, the alleged Newtown shooter, would not have been banned under Feinstein’s proposal, but the high-capacity magazines that were found at the scene would have. High-capacity magazines allow a shooter to get off many more rounds without reloading than smaller magazines.