President Barack Obama renewed his call for gun control legislation on Wednesday, saying he would push his administration and Congress to act.
“The fact that this issue is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said in a White House briefing. “The fact that we can't prevent any act of violence doesn’t mean we can't steadily reduce the violence.”
In the days since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed 27 people, including 20 small children, the president’s initial call for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies” has grown into a cascade of lawmakers pushing for gun control. Saying the country is grappling with an “epidemic of gun violence” and listing a series of recent lethal shootings, Obama said he would push for a solution.
Obama confirmed that he has tasked Vice President Joe Biden with seeking possible responses from his Cabinet, saying he had done so because of Biden’s role as a senator in passing a 1994 law that banned assault weapons (it has since expired).
“This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying something for six months and then publish a report that gets pushed aside,” the president said, saying he would use “all the powers of this office” to push for gun control measures.
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Obama did not offer specific proposals, but Wednesday’s address represented his most concrete set of prescriptions yet. He said a majority of Americans support reinstating a ban on assault weapons, limiting the sale of high-volume ammunition clips and mandating background checks before all gun purchases.
“I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner,” Obama said, also asking Congress to confirm a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The president also mentioned making mental health care “at least as easy to access to a gun.”