The day after President Obama pledged to “use whatever power this office holds” to prevent future tragedies like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the White House offered few details on exactly what actions he plans to take to halt gun violence.
“It’s a complex problem that will require a complex solution. No single piece of legislation, no single action will fully address the problem,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “I don’t have a specific agenda to announce to you today. I would simply point you to what the president said last night about moving forward in coming weeks. And I would look for him to do that.”
After taking the first few minutes of his appearance Sunday night at an interfaith service in Newtown, Conn., to offer prayers and remember the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Obama turned to a more grim, determined tone as he spoke of gun violence in the United States and the need to take action.
“We can’t tolerate this anymore,” Obama said. “These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this.”
The president continues to support reinstating the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, but Carney offered no outline of a proposal or timeline going forward.
“I think that what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School has clearly shocked the entire nation and has laid bare the necessity of evaluating the various things that we can and must do as a nation to try to better protect our children,” he said.
Carney reminded reporters that the president “didn’t talk about months or years. He said ‘coming weeks.’”
While addressing gun violence is part of the solution, Carney stressed that it is far from all of it.
“It’s important to remember that this is about our gun laws and enforcing them, but it’s also about a broader series of issues, including issues of mental health and education and the like,” he said.
UPDATE: This afternoon, President Obama had discussions with White House senior staff, the Vice President, and some members of the Cabinet to begin looking at ways the country can respond to the tragedy in Newtown, according to a White House official. Cabinet members present included Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.