President Barack Obama’s big meeting on Friday wasn’t to discuss terrorism, but to discuss gun control. He met with former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, in what POLITCO called an “unannounced meeting” which had been planned before the terrorist attack in California. The White House certainly didn’t tip its cap into exactly what was being discussed, except for a brief blurb on its website.
As part of the Administration’s ongoing effort to address gun violence in America, today President Obama met with former Representative Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly to talk about possible ways to help reduce gun violence. They discussed what more can be done to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them including ongoing efforts by the Administration to identify additional actions within existing authorities. The President also thanked the two for their leadership and on-going efforts to prevent and address gun violence. The President’s Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett was also in attendance.
For those wondering, Obama’s meeting with Giffords happened after FBI Director James Comey announced agents considered the California attack to be terrorism. It’s completely possible the White House kept the meeting on because Giffords and Kelly live in Tucson, and Obama didn’t want to keep them in town for longer than necessary. But it seems odd to hold the meeting, and publicize it, when the concern isn’t gun control but terrorism. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest did say Friday morning the President had been briefed on what happened in San Bernardino, but only called it a “regular update” on what was going on. The President hasn’t uttered a peep about terrorism since then, except for a mention about it in his weekly address. Via the White House:
It is entirely possible that these two attackers were radicalized to commit this act of terror. And if so, it would underscore a threat we’ve been focused on for years—the danger of people succumbing to violent extremist ideologies. We know that ISIL and other terrorist groups are actively encouraging people—around the world and in our country—to commit terrible acts of violence, often times as lone wolf actors. And even as we work to prevent attacks, all of us—government, law enforcement, communities, faith leaders—need to work together to prevent people from falling victim to these hateful ideologies.
This isn’t stopping the White House from pushing the “people on the No-Fly list can buy guns” narrative. Obama did it again in his weekly address, claiming it will keep more people safe.
We know that the killers in San Bernardino used military-style assault weapons—weapons of war—to kill as many people as they could. It’s another tragic reminder that here in America it’s way too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun.
For example, right now, people on the No-Fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane. If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun
This completely ignores the fact it appears the San Bernardino shooters may have gotten their neighbor to buy the rifles they used, and the fact they were illegal under California law. It also ignores how secretive and vague the federal government is on what gets people on the “No-Fly list.” The Justice Department was ordered to release its criteria last year, but refused, claiming state secrets. This is why it doesn’t make sense to ban people from getting guns if they’re on the “No-Fly list” because there’s too much room for error. Right now, it looks like the address will focus on terrorism, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the “No-Fly list” comment pop up at some point.
There something else which doesn’t make sense. Why did Obama wait until tonight to fully comment on the terrorism angle in San Bernardino? Is Obama seriously worried about the ratings that he has to wait until Sunday to talk about what happened? It certainly didn’t stop him from commenting on past Fridays when tragedy struck. Obama addressed the nation July 20, 2012 when the Aurora shooting happened, and did the same thing after Sandy Hook. The other strange part of this is the fact Obama’s comments on Aurora and Sandy Hook didn’t go that long. He spent a total of 13 minutes delivering addresses on those tragedies when they happened. President George W. Bush’s address on September 11th was only 4:32. It’s completely possible Obama could have walked out into either the White House press room or the Oval Office on Friday, given remarks, then gone about his weekend. It just seems like a complete failure of logic for the President to wait two days to comment on terrorism. Maybe he just didn’t want to be late to the White House reception that night. It just seems like a weird, unnecessary, and unneeded delay. Just like Friday’s meeting with Giffords.