This afternoon, President Barack Obama confirmed that Vice President Joe Biden will lead a panel to combat gun violence in the aftermath of Friday’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn, and he is calling for proposals to be handed to him by January.
“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said at the White House. “The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence.”
The Biden-led working group will produce “concrete proposals” by January that Obama said he “intend[s] to push without delay” and will include them in his State of the Union Address. Biden joined Obama at the announcement but did not speak.
“There’s already a growing consensus for us to build from,” Obama said. “A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of American support laws requires background checks before all gun purchases.” The new Congress, he said, should vote on all these measures and prioritize confirming a new leader for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Reminded by ABC’s Jake Tapper that Newtown wasn’t the first mass shooting to take place during his presidency, he asked Obama, “Where have you been?”
“Here’s where I’ve been … I’ve been president of the United States dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars. I don’t think I’ve been on vacation,” Obama said sternly. “I think all of us have to do some reflection on how we prioritize what we do here in Washington.”
Obama’s announcement — in the White House briefing room, named for James Brady, a Reagan press secretary who was wounded by a gunshot in an assassination attempt — was the third time in five days that he addressed the massacre that killed 20 first-graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.