The White House says it is actively undertaking a legal analysis of possible executive actions President Obama can take to tighten gun controls, even as its chief spokesman struggled to explain how new measures could have prevented the attack that killed 14 in San Bernardino, California, Wednesday.
Obama suggested Wednesday in the wake of the shooting there are "steps we can take" to tighten gun control and background check laws to stem the number of mass shootings.
"Some may be aware of the fact that we have a no-fly list where people can’t get on planes," Obama said in an interview with CBS. "But those same people who we don’t allow to fly can go in to a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm and there’s nothing that we can do to stop them."
A White House official told ABC News Wednesday evening that the administration’s look at possible executive actions Obama can take to tighten gun controls is “very much underway right now.” The official said the current review is a part of a directive the president ordered in October following the shooting at the community college in Oregon, and stressed the White House has not settled on any new actions.
But in the press briefing today, ABC News' Chief White House correspondent Jon Karl asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest whether any proposed measures could have prevented the tragedy in California.
“We’re talking about future incidents,” Earnest clarified, saying later that tightening background checks could help to prevent terror incidents on U.S. soil.
Specifically addressing the “no-fly” background check proposal floated by Obama Wednesday, Earnest conceded it wouldn't likely have had an effect based on information investigators had gathered in San Bernardino. Both shooters had acquired their weapons legally.
When asked whether the president should focus more on addressing the actual causes of the Wednesday’s shooting, Earnest said that "certainly should be a part of the discussion."
"That'll be part of the discussion as we conduct an investigation and learn more, exactly, about how these individuals carried out this act and what their motive was," Earnest said.