President Obama intends to put the "full weight" of his efforts and his office behind attempts to pass new restrictions on firearms in 2013, he told host David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday. In the year-end interview, the president suggested the catalyst for reform would be the killing of 20 first-grade students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, in a December 14 shooting spree that ended with the killer taking his own life.
"I'm going to be putting forward a package and I'm going to be putting my full weight behind it," Obama said. "I'm going to be making an argument to the American people about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again."
While stressing the urgency of the matter and holding out the goal of getting new gun legislation passed in the first year of his new four-year term, Obama also said he would await the recommendations of the Task Force on Preventing Gun Violence, headed by Vice President Joe Biden, that he appointed following the Connecticut shootings. All aspects of the problem, including mental health issues, will be part of the "national conversation" the president hopes to lead on the subject. The centerpiece of the legislative package the president will be pushing will be a reenactment of the federal ban on assault weapons that Congress passed in 1994, but allowed to expire 10 years later.
That effort will almost surely be more difficult than it sounds, however, since there is no national consensus on the contentious issue of what is or should be classified as an assault weapon. Connecticut has an assault weapons ban, but the guns used by alleged killer Adam Lanza in the Newton shootings were legal under Connecticut law. The guns were lawfully owned by Lanza's mother, whom he allegedly killed before going on the shooting rampage at the school.
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Photo of President Obama: AP Images