President Obama appoints Vice President Biden to lead gun violence task force
New York Daily News December 19, 2012
By Jonathan Lemire
“If there is even one thing we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation – all of us – to try,” President Obama said during a press conference to announce a new task force on gun violence.
President Obama on Wednesday launched a new drive to combat gun violence, appointing Vice President Biden to come up with a comprehensive plan that can be enacted “without delay.”
Biden will lead a task force that will seek the best ideas from across the government to stop the kind of gun massacres that killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut grade school last week, Obama said.
“I will use all the powers of this office to progress the efforts to reduce gun violence, and I won’t be able to do it by myself,” Obama said at a White House news conference.
He implored Congress to set aside political differences and finally act.
“It will take commitment, compromise, and most important it will take courage,” Obama said. “It is going to take a wave of Americans … standing up and saying ‘Enough’ on behalf of our kids.”
Obama vowed in the hours after last week’s massacre to take “meaningful action” to prevent future tragedies, a promise he repeated during an emotional prayer service in the grief-stricken Connecticut town.
He did not venture into specifics on Wednesday but may have tipped his hand by mentioning that the majority of Americans support reinstating the ban on assault weapons, prohibiting high-capacity ammunition magazines and closing the legal loophole that allows people to buy weapons at gun shows without a background check.
“If there is even one thing we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation – all of us – to try,” Obama said.
Obama noted that “no one law” can prevent all gun tragedies but believes the shooting Newtown has shifted the national conversation on firearms – and that most gun owners want to “keep the irresponsible few from buying a weapon of war.”
Scores of lawmakers, including some Republicans who have opposed gun control legislation in the past, have suggested that it may be time to toughen gun laws.
But firearms advocates, including the powerful National Rifle Association, are expected to oppose strict measures.
Previous mass shootings, from Columbine High School to Virginia Tech, have not resulted in any major changes in gun laws.
The President, who also suggested it was time to examine a culture “that all too often glorified guns and violence,” noted the dozens of people have died in shootings in the days after the nation fixed its eyes on Newtown and began an impassioned debate on firearms.
“Words need to lead to action,” said Obama. He then defended putting gun control on the back burner for his first four years in office, saying he was focusing on other national crises.
“I don’t think I’ve been on vacation,” Obama said.
Biden’s task force, which will be comprised of members of Congress and Obama’s Cabinet, will reach out to gun-control advocates in the coming days. The Vice President spoke to Mayor Bloomberg Wednesday morning, officials said.
“I was very encouraged by the President’s strong statement and his announcement is an important step in the right direction,” Bloomberg said. “The country needs his leadership if we are going to reduce the daily bloodshed from gun violence that we have seen for too long.”