President says he now supports bill to ban assault rifles as NRA breaks its silence over Sandy Hook school massacre By David McCormack The White House has given its clearest indication yet that President Obama will do everything in his power to reinstate a ban on assault weapons following Friday’s horrific massacre at Sandy Hook [...]

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Obama will back tough new gun laws

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President says he now supports bill to ban assault rifles as NRA breaks its silence over Sandy Hook school massacre

By David McCormack

The White House has given its clearest indication yet that President Obama will do everything in his power to reinstate a ban on assault weapons following Friday’s horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

After keeping relatively quiet about gun control during his first term, the President is now poised to push for new gun control measures.

Obama has long backed such a ban, but the White House has said the president can’t act alone and until now there has been little appetite in Congress to enact new gun laws.

Then on Sunday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein announced that she plans to introduce legislation to reinstate the ban early in the new year.Senator Feinstein said the bill would ‘aim at limiting the sale, transfer and possession of assault weapons, along with the capacity of high-capacity magazines.’
She said that her bill – along with a similar bill in the House of Representatives – will be proposed on the first day of the next Congress when politicians return after the holidays.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says Obama would ‘actively support’ Feinstein’s bill and would also support legislation to close the gun show ‘loophole,’ which allows people to buy guns from private dealers without background checks.

The nation’s addiction to guns was highlighted when it was revealed that more than two million guns were purchased in America during the month of November.

On Black Friday alone, the FBI was asked to process 154,000 background checks for prospective gun owners.President Obama has pledged to address gun violence in the coming weeks following Friday’s deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

At a memorial service for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, the President said the U.S. wasn’t doing enough to protect its children and pledged a huge effort to ‘prevent more tragedies like this.’
In one emotional meeting, the President embraced Robbie Parker, whose six-year-old daughter Emilie was one of those senselessly murdered.

Gotcha: Barack Obama pretends to be caught in Spider-Man's web as he greets the son of a White House staffer in the Outer Oval Office

In one of the most religious speeches of his presidency, Mr Obama talked about how the ultimate goal for a society is to protect their children. ‘You are not alone in your grief,’ President Obama said. ‘All across this land our world too has been torn apart. All across this land we wept with you and pulled our children tight. Newtown, you are not alone.’

‘If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. By that measure, can we truly say as a nation that we are doing our obligations?’ he said. He made several references to the prospective – and likely – legal battles that will come as politicians fight for tougher restrictions on guns in the wake of the shooting. He avoided specific plans, but took aim at the arguments made by activists who point to the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms as a reason to keep guns accessible.

‘Are we prepared to say that such violence visited upon our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?’ he said.

Yet the President also made clear that the cause of gun violence is a ‘complex’ range of issues, perhaps an acknowledgment to those who are against stronger gun control.‘We will be told that the causes of such violence will be 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,’ he said.

‘But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this,’ the President added.
A particularly poignant moment came in the speech when Mr Obama read the first names of all 20 children who died in the shooting.

‘We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage?’ he said, referring to the four other mass shootings that have taken place since Mr Obama was elected.

In the hours that followed Friday’s tragedy, a number of public figures spoke out in favour of greater gun control legislation.

‘The country needs [Obama] to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem,’ said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement after the Newtown attack.

‘Calling for “meaningful action” is not enough. We need immediate action,’ he said. ‘We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress.’
Former Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in Tucson last year, called on lawmakers and the president to ‘stand up and do what is right.’

‘This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence,’ he said in a statement on Facebook. ‘This can no longer wait.’

The president was seen as loathe to revive a public gun debate ahead of the 2012 election campaign, because it was seens as such a divisive issue. But during the second presidential debate in October he said that he is ready to take new action on gun control, including the reintroduction of the assault weapons ban.

A 10-year federal ban on the sale of some semi-automatic weapons – dubbed ‘assault’ weapons – expired in 2004 and has not been renewed despite several attempts. Obama had said in 2008 that he would push for renewal in his first term, but that effort never materialised.

NRA Solution: More arms in schools

WASHINGTON/NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec 21 (Reuters) – The powerful U.S. gun rights lobby called on Friday for armed police in all U.S. schools within weeks as Americans remembered the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre with a moment of silence.

National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre said attempts to keep guns out of schools were ineffective and made schools more vulnerable than airports, banks and other public buildings patrolled by armed guards.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said at a news briefing.
LaPierre said the news media and violent video games shared blame for the Sandy Hook massacre, the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

His remarks were twice interrupted by protesters who unfurled signs and shouted “stop the killing.” The slaughter of so many young children has rekindled fierce debate about U.S. gun laws. This week, some lawmakers called for swift passage of an assault-weapons ban and President Barack Obama commissioned a task force to find a way to quell violence, a challenge in a nation with a strong culture of gun ownership.

LaPierre did not take questions at the news conference. His comments drew a sharp response from gun-control advocates.“They offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

About 50 pro-gun-control protesters rallied outside the downtown hotel where the NRA held its event.
“They were blaming it on all kinds of other things instead of guns themselves,” said Medea Benjamin, co-director of women’s peace group Code Pink, who was escorted out of the briefing after holding up a poster that read “NRA blood on your hands.”

Daily Mail, London




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