Obama: Weapons Ban 'Made Sense,' Tough to Reinstate

Administration official: "Question of illegal small arms is of great concern."

ByABC News
April 15, 2009, 5:33 PM

April 16, 2009— -- President Obama signaled today that he will not push for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban in the United States even though he still believes that the ban "made sense."

Obama pledged during the presidential campaign to reinstate the ban, which expired in 2004, but today said doing so would mean facing difficult political challenges.

"None of us are under any illusion that reinstating that ban would be easy," Obama said at a press conference after his meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Mexico City. "What we've focused on is how we can improve our enforcement under existing laws."

Perhaps rather than spending the political capital to fight for the weapons ban and other major legislation like stimulus programs simultaneously, the Obama administration plans to block the flow of illegal guns to Mexico through stricter enforcement of existing laws.

Calderon, who would like the assault weapons ban reinstated because he believes Mexico was safer before it expired, said that he understands that "this is a politically delicate topic" in the United States.

Despite the possibility Obama might abandon his promise to restore the assault weapons ban, Obama told Calderon he would push for Senate ratification of another weapons-related measure, the inter-American arms trafficking treaty, according to the White House. The treaty, aimed at curbing the trafficking of guns and ammunition regionally, was signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1997 but was never ratified in the Senate.

"The president felt that it was important to push now for the ratification of this treaty because the question of illegal small-arms is of great concern to the countries throughout the hemisphere at it affects their safety," a senior administration official told ABC News. "The president's belief that steps need to be taken conveys our commitment to address this challenge."

Obama and Calderon also announced they are establishing a partnership to address clean energy and climate change. An administration official said that this is just the "launch of a process" and noted that the cooperation can be seen as "overcoming the perception in a constructive way" that the two nations cannot see eye-to-eye on some energy issues.

While there is no new actual policy on the environment, only a framework, the White House pointed to the agreement as further evidence of the United States and Mexico's mutual responsibility for shared problems and desire to cooperate.