Obama cited Scripture to call for healing, and said “we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” He called the shooting a “heinous crime” against “beautiful little kids.”
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years, and each time I hear the news I react not as a president but as anyone else would, as a parent,” Obama said. “And that was especially true today.”
What is “meaningful action”? Obama has explained this before: He wants a new assault weapons ban. My colleague Allison Benedikt is among those who wanted more from Obama, but that’s not how this works. To use two examples without conflating the scales of the tragedies: LBJ didn’t call for the Civil Rights Act on November 22, 1963, and George W. Bush didn’t ask for any military response on 9/11. Day one is when you tell people whether you’re going to pick up the cards. Showing those cards, that comes later.
Bloomberg’s full statement:
“With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.”
Enough with putting off tomorrow what we should be talking about today. Enough with being afraid to step on someone’s delicate sensibilities when it comes to the Second Amendment. Enough with elected leaders who are too cowardly to confront the National Rifle Association and their ardent supporters. Enough with moms and dads and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and pastors and deacons who are afraid to make public the private anguish of mental illness.
The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths.
Powerful lobbying groups allow the ownership of guns to reach beyond the Constitution’s intended purpose of the right to bear arms. Therefore, Congress must act on what is stated law, and face the reality that access to firearms reaches beyond what the Second Amendment intends to achieve.
Obama has been given several sad opportunities to address gun violence. In Tucson, he spoke of “a national conversation” commencing, “not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health system.” After an attack on a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee, Obama said similar events “are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence.”
But that soul-searching did not happen in Obama’s first term. And before Friday’s shooting in Newtown, few thought Obama would devote political capital to any sort of serious push for new gun-control legislation. Though the National Rifle Association’s power has waned from its peak, Republicans remain firmly on the NRA’s side while Democrats remain deeply scarred by the gun-rights group’s success in ousting pro-gun-control legislators. It will be days before we know whether a massacre at an elementary school will be enough to force Obama and Congress to act.
“What’s he going to do? He’s not going to get legislation,” said Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia. “That’s obvious to anybody.”
Sabato and other experts predicted that Washington’s powerful gun lobby — and the many lawmakers from both parties who are cognizant of its influence — virtually assures the failure of any legislation aimed at curbing gun rights. At best, Sabato said, Obama could try other policy approaches in an attempt to improve public safety, such as by backing legislation that would require more metal detectors in schools and other public places…
Obama did not outline specifics or directly call on Congress to act, but many Democrats issued statements that echoed the president’s call for a policy response.
Democrats all over Washington issued statements Friday expressing sympathy and dismay over the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But amid the sadness, grief and shock one thing was clear — most in the Democratic Party did not want to inject a discussion of gun control into the day.
Many Democrats blame gun control for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential loss and there has been an increasing reluctance over the past decade to push the issue to the forefront of American politics. In 2006, Democrats won a majority in Congress in part by winning in conservative areas with candidates who were proudly pro-gun rights…
Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York avoided vague references altogether. His statement was purely sympathetic and stressed that Americans should “stand together with the community of Newtown.”
I teach at a state university with a campus gun-free policy, and quite a few of my students have permits to carry guns. After the Virginia Tech shooting a few years ago, one of them asked me if we could move class off campus, because she felt unsafe being unarmed. I certainly would have felt perfectly safe having her carry a gun in my presence; she was, and is, a responsible adult. I feel the same way about the other law students I know who have carry permits.
Gun-free zones are premised on a lie: that murderers will follow rules, and that people like my student are a greater danger to those around them than crazed killers. That’s an insult to honest people. Sometimes, it’s a deadly one. The notion that more guns mean more crime is wrong. In fact, as gun ownership has expanded over the past decade, crime has gone down.
Fortunately, the efforts to punish “the people who didn’t do it” are getting less traction these days.
It's very simple Dems: if you want gun control, primary Dems who won't support it. Don't send them $. Hold Obama accountable.
— Greg Pollowitz (@GPollowitz) December 15, 2012
On the outskirts of the vigil I met Tom Donlin, who’d made an ad hoc candle holder out of a Starbucks cup. “I just was walking by and saw this,” he said. “I’m not actually for gun control, so I probably disagree with these people. There’s strict gun control in Norway, and that gunman killed — what, something like 80 people?” He was still listening. “We might want to look at mental health laws, not gun laws.”
At another end of the crowd, a government worker named Jennifer Purl huddled in her green coat and complimented some activists on their signs. “Yes!” she said. “Close the gun show loophole.” She rattled off some other ideas for restricting guns, without banning them, and with consideration for the mental state of gun owners. “Nobody’s talking about banning guns! Every time there’s one of these tragedies, people run out to buy guns. It’s crazy, just crazy.”