Violent Videogames, Mental Health and Guns — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 12/18/12

Dec 18, 2012 2:50pm

TAPPER: The president’s close friend and adviser, David Axelrod, on Sunday evening, after the — watching the president’s speech, was watching a football game, and an ad came on for a violent video game. And he tweeted, shouldn’t we quit — he tweeted an expression of support for banning a certain kind of weapons or regulating certain kinds of weapons, but then he said, shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game? And this touches on the cultural aspect that you seem to be alluding to also being part of the solution. And I’m wondering if the president has any views on this. We haven’t really heard him talk that much about these cultural issues in his time as president.

CARNEY: Well, I was asked about this — I — well, maybe I’ll — I have similarly seen reports on it. And I don’t have any proposals to tell you that, you know, the president thinks or we think should be moved on.

I think that there are cultural issues, and I — every expert on this issue would, I think, agree with that, that there are cultural issues that contribute to the broader problem of gun violence. The — one of the reasons why the president wants to expand the net beyond considerations of gun laws is because he recognizes that — (coughs) — excuse me — and agrees with it, that we need to look broadly at all of the potential contributors to the scourge of gun violence in this country.

So, you know, I — on that particular area of inquiry, I don’t have a specific proposal to tell you about or even that there will be one.

But it’s certainly — he wants to have these conversations with people who have worked on this issue and people who are affected by it, to explore all the possibilities, to move forward with a — with a — with a broad approach that addresses gun violence, that includes, you know, sensible legislation to deal with things like assault weapons and gun show loopholes, magazine capacity potentially — but as well as other issues, mental health issues, education issues and perhaps cultural issues.

TAPPER: Speaking of mental health, the National Alliance for Mental Illness — or, of Mental Illness report, during the recession states trimming their budgets cut almost $2 billion from mental health services. This seems to be an area where the president could take immediate action, working with Congress, to help fill the gap of the — for those states. Has the president — is he aware of this statistic? Has he –

CARNEY: I’m not sure if he’s aware of the statistic. The issue of mental health is something that both the president and others in this administration who have broadly addressed health care issues, including Secretary Sebelius, believes is very important.

And that is why the Affordable Care Act, “Obamacare,” contains within it assurances that those who will gain coverage that they have not had in the past will gain medical health services, including, you know, a set of services that will be available without copays or deductibles because, you know, mental health issues are health issues. And the president believes that firmly.

Again, in terms of potential areas that could be addressed through action at the federal level or at the state level, he — you know, he wants to hear about proposals that might help address this problem. You know, it is, as he said, you know, an issue that — the mental health aspect of this is an important aspect.

TAPPER: According to the quote by Danielle Klaidman of Newsweek, The Daily Beast, in his book about the Obama administration — in the first year of the Obama administration, Attorney General Holder was going to take action on regulating guns. And the president’s chief of staff told him to shut up — he actually — he added a couple of words in there — about guns, the issue being the fact that there were a number of Democrats in vulnerable districts where gun rights were popular, that would — politically, it was not wise. Does the president know about this? Is that — does the president regret that that took place?

CARNEY: Well, I –

TAPPER: Has Attorney General Holder been told since Aurora or Fort Hood, or the Sikh temple or Newtown or any of the other many, many shootings that have taken place while Mr. Obama’s been president, has Mr. Holder been told to resume what he was planning on doing before the White House chief of staff told him to stop?

CARNEY: Well, that’s an anecdote that I’m not familiar with, as — though I — you know, I know the author, I confessed from the podium that I didn’t read his book. But the –

TAPPER: Does that mean it didn’t happen?

CARNEY: I am not — I don’t know, and — so I certainly haven’t had a discussion with the president about it.

I can tell you that the president believes, as he, I think, made very clear on Sunday night and as I reiterated both yesterday and today, that we have not done enough as a country to address this problem and we need to do more and that what happened in Newtown hopefully will catalyze the process of doing more. And he will use the power of his office to move that along.

And that has begun already with the conversations he’s had here internally with — you know, a conversation that he had today with one senator, I’m sure he’ll have with other lawmakers. And you know, it — as I think we’ve heard from a number of people, both in Washington and elsewhere, the enormity of what happened on Friday, I think, has caused everyone, or many people, to reassess where we are when it comes to the ways that we address this problem.

TAPPER: Why are these conversations not taking place on a national level? Why –

CARNEY: Jake, can I just remind you that the shooting happened four days ago? And –

TAPPER: This one did, Jay, but there have been a lot that have taken place over the last four years. It’s not as though gun violence became a problem on Friday.

CARNEY: I — I completely agree with that, and I can –

TAPPER: But you’ve been acting as if you’re completely oblivious to the fact that there have been shootings for years.

CARNEY: No, that’s not true. I mean, we can — you know, the president — it is a fact that we have taken action, and the Department of Justice can fill you in on this, to enhance background checks. And background checks — when we talk about the fundamental issue of making sure that those who should not have weapons do not acquire them or cannot acquire them, enhancing our background check system is an important step that addresses specifically the problem.

So it is the case that we’ve taken action in this president’s first term. And he made clear on Sunday evening that he believes we need to take more action. And he looks forward to working with Congress and working with communities beyond Washington to help bring that about.

-Jake Tapper

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