White House highlights ‘obstacles’ to taking action on guns
As gun control advocates and even some gun rights supporters call for renewed focus on gun control, including a ban on assault weapons, following Friday's shooting in Newtown, Conn., the White House tamped down suggestions Monday that it will act quickly on the issue.
When asked at Monday's press briefing about the gun lobby's influence on potential action, White House spokesman Jay Carney responded, without specifically mentioning that lobby, "I think we all recognize that this is a complex problem and there are obstacles to taking action coming from a variety of places. What the president hopes is that everyone steps back and looks at the situation that has to be addressed and thinks broadly and thoughtfully about how we can move forward."
Carney suggested that the most Americans can immediately expect to see out of the White House will be an effort to engage the public "in the coming weeks."
He added that "no single piece of legislation, no single action will fully address the problem. So I don't have a specific agenda to announce to you today. I would simply point you to what the president said last night about moving forward in the coming weeks."
But Carney later stretched that timeline when asked about a potential loss of momentum on the issue. "It's hard to think about 20 6- and 7-year-olds and what happened to them on Friday, and imagine that in a few weeks or few months that pain would not still be incredibly intense," he said.
President Barack Obama spoke Sunday night at a vigil in Newtown and pledged to engage the public following the shooting, but made no mention of legislation or specific action.
"In the coming weeks, I'll 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," the president said.
Critics say the Obama administration hasn't done enough to combat gun violence. Carney responded to that criticism Monday by saying the president has supported an assault weapons ban and that the administration has "taken steps" to improve background checks, "but as you heard the president say last night, we all need to do more."
When pressed by ABC News' Jake Tapper to name specific legislation pushed by the administration, Carney cited "actions" on background checks and again stressed that more action needs to be taken.
The Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which resulted in 28 dead, including the gunman and his mother, has prompted lawmakers, special interest groups and others to call for a substantive response.
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