Obama acts on gun controls
PRESIDENT Barack Obama directed a cabinet group yesterday to give him recommendations by next month on ways to tighten the regulation of guns in the wake of the Connecticut massacre of schoolchildren.
Responding to national outrage over Friday's killing of 20 children, Obama held a White House news conference to announce that Vice-President Joe Biden would lead an effort to craft policies to crack down on gun violence.
Obama said he believed Americans would support the reinstatement of a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons, a ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips and a law requiring background checks on buyers before all gun purchases, which would close a loophole allowing sales at open-air gun shows without such checks.
Saying gun control could not be the only solution to the problem, Obama expressed support for making it easier for Americans to get access to mental healthcare - "at least as easy as access to a gun".
Under pressure from fellow Democrats to act, Obama insisted the guns issue would not be ignored this time around. Previous appeals for more gun regulation died even though mass shootings continued.
With Biden at his side, Obama said the group would give him proposals he could outline in his State of the Union speech in January.
"This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside. This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now," Obama said.
The Newtown, Connecticut, shootings have shocked Americans in ways that previous mass shootings have not. The gunman's mother and six adults at the school were also killed before the gunman shot himself.
Some previously adamant opponents of increased gun control have expressed a willingness to consider more regulation. Even the powerful National Rifle Association said this week that it would be prepared to offer meaningful contributions to ensure there was no repeat of Newtown. -