President Obama, in announcing a task force on gun control headed by Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday, urged Congress to move quickly next year on legislation to tighten restrictions in response to the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. He said he assigned Biden to lead the interagency effort “to come up with a set of concrete proposals, no later than January, which I intend to push without delay.”
“There’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. We're going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We're going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence,” Obama said.
The White House has said Obama would support a renewed assault-weapons ban and closing of the loophole that allows people to purchase firearms at gun shows without a background check. While in the Senate, Biden helped craft the 1994 assault-weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
“This is not some Washington commission,” Obama said, “This is a team that has a very specific task: to pull together real reforms, right now.”
The majority of Americans support a ban on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips, and laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases, he added.
“I urge Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner,” Obama said. Congress also needs to confirm a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Exlposives, he said.
In moving so quickly after the deadly rampage by Adam Lanza, 20, last Friday, Obama is hoping to take advantage of the widespread reaction that has caused many, including some pro-gun lawmakers, to consider additional measures to prevent such shootings in the future.
“I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. We won't prevent them all, but that can't be an excuse not to try,” Obama said.
“And I'm not going to be able to do it by myself. Ultimately, if this effort is to succeed, it's going to require the help of the American people,” he said
Obama met earlier this week with Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to talk about potential policy responses. Obama has also talked with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., about tightening gun-control laws, according to the White House.