Obama Launches Gun-Violence Task Force

At a press conference this morning President Obama said “he would make gun control a “central issue” as he opens a second term” and he announced the formation of a special task force on gun violence, to be headed by Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama’s announcement came as  “House Republicans restated their firm opposition to enacting any new limits on firearms or ammunition, setting up the possibility of a philosophical clash over the Second Amendment early in Mr. Obama’s second term.”

President Obama noted that the task force “will formulate a package of policy recommendations by January.”

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The announcement came five days after the deadliest elementary school shooting in American history.

The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said. “The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean that we can’t steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence.”

The president said he intends to push for implementation of the proposals “without delay.”

“This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside.

“This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now,” he said.

President Obama said that the task force would determine a number of steps to take to “curb gun violence and prevent mass shootings, including legislative measures, mental health resources and a “look more closely at a culture that all-too-often glorifies guns and violence.””

The President also “urged Congress to confirm a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which has been without an official leader for six years.”

Obama also expressed his longstanding desire to see the national background check system strengthened and a ban on the sale of some assault-style weapons reinstated.

“I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” Obama said.

The NY Times reports, gun control advocate New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg praised President Obama’s announcement and stated he “offered his “full support” to Mr. Biden in a telephone conversation the two had Wednesday.”

There will be much to talk about in the next few weeks, but I believe this is a step in the right direction. We can not wish this issue away. It is a complex issue that clearly has multiple layers of problems to deal with from gun control to mental health issues. These are conversation we should all be involved in, the President urged during the presser.

Mr. Obama said he is “betting” that the majority of Americans, including gun owners, will not forget the deaths of the children and the teachers in Newtown.

“There’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society,” he said. But he added, “The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”

Let the work begin. We’ve had far too much senseless gun violence in recent years, including deadly shootings that the President noted, since Sandy Hook.

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