WASHINGTON -- President Obama supports efforts to reinstate an
assault weapons ban as part of a comprehensive plan to address gun
violence, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Press Secretary Jay Carney
added that Obama would back proposals to close the "gun show loophole,"
which allows people to buy weapons without background checks.
comments came as Democratic members of Congress stepped up their push
for gun regulations in the wake of Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 students and six
Obama met with aides and others to develop a
"comprehensive" plan that would include the education, social and mental
health issues associated with gun violence. He is also "interested in
looking at" possible restrictions on high-capacity ammunition clips,
president spoke by phone Tuesday with Sen. Joe Manchin of West
Virginia, a Democratic gun rights supporter who said he is re-thinking
his position in light of Friday's shooting.
Obama "wants to move in the coming weeks," Carney said.
administration's project will likely involve Vice President Biden,
Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. All have spoken
After he spoke with Obama, Manchin said that "we must have a dialogue and bring parties from all sides to the table."
includes "my friends" at the National Rifle Association and other
Second Amendment supporters, Manchin said. He added, "I know that their
hearts are aching for the families in Newtown, just like all Americans."
addition to new gun control measures, lawmakers are discussing a number
of other issues in response to the Newtown killings. They include
mental health funding and addressing the impact of violent video games
and films on young minds.
"It's a complex problem that requires
more than one solution," Carney said. "It calls not only for
re-examining our gun laws -- and how well we enforce them -- but also
for engaging mental health professionals, law enforcement officials,
educators, parents and communities to find those solutions."
specifically cited the efforts of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who
says she plans to introduce legislation early next year to reinstate the
assault weapons ban that lapsed in 2004. Obama has voiced support in
the past for a new assault weapons ban, but did little to push the issue
during his first term.
Feinstein said Tuesday members of her staff and rewriting the old bill, which expired in 2004.
ban about 100 weapons by names and we also reduce the physical
characteristic test to one," she said. "We grandfather existing
Feinstein said she has spoken to House and Senate
Democrats as her staff drafts the new bill. She said she also wants to
speak to Manchin. Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., and Carolyn McCarthy,
D-N.Y., are leading House efforts on the assault weapons ban, Feinstein
So far, however, no Republican members have reached out to
her, Feinstein said. But the fallout from the Newtown shooting means
"this is a sea change," she said.
"I think everybody is stunned,"
Feinstein said. "I think there is a hope among people that don't want
any action that well, once the grief of the moment is over, Americans
will go on to other things," she said. "I really don't agree with that."
gun rights supporters of both acknowledged the change in tone regarding
the issue, most hesitated Tuesday when asked about which types of
legislation they would support.
"I'm very happy that the
president's going to do everything he can administratively," Majority
Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters. "We must engage on a
thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow
violence not continue to grow."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a
potential 2016 presidential contender, expressed skepticism that a ban
on assault weapons could prevent another mass shooting.
we need to be informed and learn about this specific incident to see
what policy changes could have prevented it," Rubio said. "But to be
quite frank I've always been skeptical of the ability of gun laws and
gun laws alone to prevent violent things like this from happening."
said he, like many members of Congress, was "haunted" the shooting. "I
dropped my kids off at school yesterday and it was a different feeling
from every other time I dropped them, because you realize how vulnerable
we really all are to a random act of violence of such horrifying
dimensions," he said.
Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., he supported
Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman's proposal to establish a commission on
violence to investigate the mass shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere
to prevent future acts of violence.
"I think we need to have the
conversation about all aspects of this tragedy to see that it doesn't
happen again," McCain said when asked if banning assault weapons could
be part of the solution.
Sen. Mark Begich, an Alaska Democrat up
for re-election in 2014, said the nation's culture of violence and the
issue of mentally impaired individuals obtaining guns needed to be
discussed. When asked specifically about a ban on assault weapons,
Begich stepped into an elevator and said, "Lot of discussion ahead of
us" as the elevator doors closed.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., also said
more needed to be done on mental health issues, particularly the
sharing of information between agencies.
Senate Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday: "The entire Congress is united in
condemning the violence in Newtown, and on the need to enforce our laws.
As we continue to learn the facts, Congress will examine whether there
is an appropriate and constitutional response that would better protect
Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert
Goodlatte, R-Va., told CQ Roll Call he was in favor of reviewing what
happened in Connecticut, but "gun control is not going to be something
that I would support." The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over
Meanwhile in Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick
Snyder vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed weapons to be
carried in churches, schools and daycares.