President Obama made a strong opening push on actually advancing gun control legislation yesterday, calling for policy recommendations within a month, which he will then highlight in his State of the Union address and subsequently push for in Congress. While Obama has been painfully absent from the gun debate, failing to even mention the assault weapons ban for most of his first term, this is now about as proactive as he could possibly be.
At a White House press conference, he first invoked the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary, but then crucially expanded his scope: he spoke of “what we might do not only to deter mass shootings in the future, but to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day.” He closed by once again reminding people it’s not just Newtown:
Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother. Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A 4-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri and taken off life support just yesterday.
Each one of these Americans was a victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year—violence that we cannot accept as routine.
So I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed the at preventing more tragedies like this. We won’t prevent them all, but that can’t be an excuse not to try. It won’t be easy, but that can’t be an excuse not to try.
Obama tasked Vice President Biden with heading the task force that will come up with the legislative recommendations, which is also encouraging: the National Rifle Association gave Biden an “F” rating as a Senator and has called him “the most anti-gun vice president in American history.”