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December 14, 2012

White House sidesteps talking about gun violence

President Obama was briefed about the Connecticut shooting in the Oval Office this morning -- though the White House is shying away from talking about efforts to reduce gun violence.

Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan told Obama about the shooting at 10:30 a.m and Obama continues to receive regular updates, Press Secretary Jay Carney said. Obama has also talked with FBI Director Mueller and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy.

"As a father," Carney said of Obama, "Incidents like these weigh heavily on him."

But Carney declined to weigh into whether the incident will lead to gun safety legislation, saying the subject will be visited, but that "today is not that day."

Carney said White House officials were still gathering information about the shooting. "As we do, I think it's important on a day like today to view this as I know the president, as a father, does, and I as a father, and others who are parents certainly do, which is to feel enormous sympathy for families that are affected and to do everything we can to support state and local law enforcement and to support those who are enduring what appears to be a very tragic event.

"There is, I'm sure, will be, rather, a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don't think today is that day," he said.

Obama has disappointed gun control advocates who want him to take a more forceful stand for increased legislation; in January 2011.

The incident falls just five months after Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney suspended their increasingly bitter presidential campaign in the wake of shootings at a movie theater in Colorado.

"There are going to be other days for politics," Obama told supporters in Fort Myers, Fla., before cutting his campaign trip short to return to Washington. "This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection."

Carney then declined to say whether Obama would call for a further review of gun-safety laws, saying only that Obama "believes that we need to take common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights of Americans, while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing law do not get them."

The Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence was unmoved by the political condolences. "We don’t want sympathy. We want action," President Dan Gross said at the time.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on both campaigns to say "specifically what are they going to do about guns?"

"Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country," Bloomberg said in an interview on New York’s WOR Radio.

It never happened.

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