Obama firm on new gun law after ‘worst day of presidency’

Obama firm on new gun law after ‘worst day of presidency’

Obama firm on new gun law after ‘worst day of presidency’

Gun buyers look at various assault-style weapons in this photo. US President Obama (below) commits to putting a halt to gun violence at the top of his agenda. AFP photo

U.S. President Barack Obama has said the recent massacre at a Connecticut elementary school was “the worst day of his presidency” and pledged to put his “full weight” behind a legislative package in 2013 aimed at containing gun violence.

In an interview with NBC television’s “Meet the Press” that aired Dec. 30, Obama voiced skepticism about the proposal by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the leading gun-rights lobbying group, to place armed guards at schools in the aftermath of the Dec. 14, 2012, deadly assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Instead, the president vowed to rally the American people around an agenda to limit gun violence, adding that he still supported increased background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity bullet magazines. He left no doubt it will be one of his top priorities next year.

“It is not enough for us to say, ‘This is too hard, so we’re not going to try,’” Obama said. “I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can’t have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high-capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids,” he said. “And, yes, it’s going to be hard.”

Adam Lanza, 20, gunned down his mother, six adults and 20 young children at the Connecticut school before committing suicide.

‘Don’t want to see it repeated’

The president said he was ready to meet with Republicans and Democrats and anyone with a stake in the issue. The schoolhouse shootings, coming as families prepared for the holidays, have elevated the issue of gun violence to the forefront of public attention. The tragedy immediately prompted calls for greater gun controls, but the NRA is strongly resisting those efforts, arguing instead that schools should have armed guards for protection.

Obama seemed unimpressed by the NRA proposal. “I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools,” he said. “And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem.”

The president said he intended to press the issue with the public. “The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away,” Obama said. “It certainly won’t feel like that to me. This is something that, you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it’s not something that I want to see repeated.”

He has committed to putting a halt to gun violence at the top of his agenda for his second term, though his remarks Dec. 30 did not appear to signal an all-out effort to shape public opinion on the issue.

Separately, a member of the president’s Cabinet said Dec. 30 that rural America may be ready to join a national conversation about gun control. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the debate has to start with respect for the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees the right to bear arms and a recognition that hunting is a way of life for millions of Americans.

Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.

Candidacy of Sen Hagel still not clear



President Barack Obama offered strong support for former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as the potential next U.S. defense secretary but said that he had not yet decided on a nominee for the Pentagon post.

“I’ve served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate, somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam,” Obama told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Hagel is considered a leading candidate to replace outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, but the former Nebraska lawmaker has come under criticism for his record on Israel and for a comment that being gay was an inhibiting factor for being an ambassador. Obama said he had seen nothing that would disqualify Hagel.