President Barack Obama has asked his cabinet to begin formulating proposals to regulate firearms, according to a report in the Washington Post.
As Newtown, Conn., begins to bury the children slain in Saturday's assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Capitol Hill is witnessing a long-absent push for gun control. Obama and Democratic lawmakers, including some with staunch pro-gun reputations, have begun calling for action.
Obama has enlisted Vice President Joe Biden to lead the administration’s push with cabinet members, according to the Post. That will be in tandem with a push in the Senate, where lawmakers have begun floating new measures.
In an emotional address at a Sunday night prayer vigil, Obama said the country has a moral obligation to prevent another Sandy Hook, but he did not offer any specific proposals.
“In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens -- from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators -- in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” Obama said.
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Members of Congress have been more explicit. Among the ideas offered so far: renewing a ban on assault weapons (the previous prohibition expired in 2004 and Obama has expressed support for reinstating it); preventing the sale of high-capacity clips that allow firing dozens of rounds without reloading; and bolstering measures to prevent Americans with mental health issues from obtaining guns.
“We need to accept the reality that we’re not doing enough to protect our citizens,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said in a floor speech. “In the coming days and weeks, we’ll engage in a meaningful conversation and proper debate about how to change laws and culture that allow this violence to continue to grow.”
Reid added that “every idea should be on the table,” a sentiment echoed by pro-gun Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Sen. Manchin told reporters on Monday that he would not be deterred by the political clout of pro-gun organizations like the National Rifle Association.
"I'm not afraid of the political ramifications,” Manchin said.