Obama taps Biden to craft new policies to curb gun violence in wake of shooting
Published December 19, 2012
WASHINGTON – President Obama will tap Vice President Biden to lead an administration-wide effort looking at gun control and other measures in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting last week.
The move, to be announced shortly before noon on Wednesday, marks the first concrete step by the White House toward possibly crafting new firearms restrictions. Aides told Fox News that the president is not expected to announce any major policy decisions on Wednesday. Rather, he will outline the process for pursuing changes.
Obama and top administration officials have suggested the response to the Newtown, Conn., mass murder could include a range of recommendations, covering everything from mental health to school security. But the focus, given the debate that has accelerated on Capitol Hill in recent days, is likely to be gun control.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that Obama is "actively supportive" of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's, D-Calif., push to bring back an assault-weapons ban. He also said the president supports closing the so-called gun show loophole.
Lawmakers have floated a number of other proposals, including regulation of high-capacity clips, that the administration could also look at.
At the same time, some lawmakers have embraced broadening the discussion to include an examination of the entertainment industry, and particularly video games. Gun-rights advocates have started to push back on the swift call for more firearms regulation. The National Rifle Association, after remaining silent in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, released its first -- albeit brief -- statement on Tuesday, and announced it would be holding a major press conference on Friday.
The White House sees some urgency in formulating a policy response to the shooting, even as Obama and his top aides are consumed with averting the looming fiscal crisis before tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January.
As many pro-gun lawmakers have called for a greater focus on mental health issues and the impact of violent entertainment, aides say Obama also prefers a holistic approach.
"It's a complex problem that requires more than one solution," Carney said Tuesday. "It calls for not only re-examining our gun laws and how well we enforce them, but also for engaging mental health professionals, law-enforcement officials, educators, parents and communities to find those solutions."
Still, much of the immediate focus after the shooting is on gun control, an issue that has been dormant in Washington for years. Obama expended little political capital on gun issues during his first term, despite several mass shootings, including a movie theater attack in Aurora, Colorado, in the midst of this year's presidential campaign.
The White House has begun to signal that Obama may be more proactive on gun issues following the murders of the elementary school youngsters, ages 6 and 7.
The policy process Obama was announcing Wednesday was expected to include input from the departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services. The heads of those agencies met with Obama at the White House on Monday.
Fox News' Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/19/obama-to-launch-effort-led-by-biden-to-create-new-policies-in-wake-school/#ixzz2FVK0vziJ