September 22, 2013

President Obama deplores gun violence at Navy Yard memorial

President Barack Obama said Sunday he fears there's a "creeping resignation" that mass shootings like the deadly attack last Monday at the Washington Navy Yard are becoming the "new normal."

Speaking at a memorial service for the 12 victims, Obama noted its the fifth time as president he's sought to console a community.

"It ought to It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation," Obama said of the mass killings, noting that single mass shootings did so in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia. "And yet here in the United States after the round-the-clock coverage on cable news, after the heartbreaking interviews with families, after all of the speeches and all of the punditry and all of the commentary, nothing happens."

And, he added, "sometimes I fear there is a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is, that this is somehow the new normal."

Continue reading "President Obama deplores gun violence at Navy Yard memorial" »

September 17, 2013

Obama defends economy remarks, says time for Congress to act on guns

President Obama says "commonsense gun safety laws" might prevent some of the mass shootings that he said he fears are becoming an American "ritual."

"The fact that we do not have a firm enough background check system is something that makes us more vulnerable to these kinds of mass shootings," Obama said Tuesday, noting the alleged Navy Yard shooter may have had some mental health problems. "I do get concerned that this becomes a ritual that we go through every three, four months, where we have these horrific mass shootings. Everybody expresses understandable horror. We all embrace the families and and obviously our thoughts and prayers are with those families right now as they're absorbing this incredible loss.

"And yet we're not willing to take some basic actions," he told Noticias Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart. He said the ball is now in Congress's court, noting that hes' put in place every executive action that he had proposed after the December shootings in Newtown, Conn.

"I've taken steps that are within my control," he said. "The next phase now is for Congress to go ahead and move."

He called the gun control and immigration reform -- as well as the budget -- an area in which "a majority of the American people and even a large percentage of Republicans who are ready to move the country forward, and yet we keep on getting blocked."

He also defended his decision to stick to his speech on the economy hours after the shooting, saying he had been in touch with his national security team, but that, "on the other hand, what is also important to remember is that Congress has a lot of work to do right now."

Outlook for gun control still bleak after Navy Yard shootings

        The events at the Navy Yard have evoked some sympathy for revisiting the gun control debate--but it's still unlikely to go anywhere.

        "We're going to move this up as quickly as we can, but we've got to have the votes first. We don't have the votes. I hope we get them, but we don't have them now," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told a news conference Tuesday.

          The Senate failed earlier this year to get enough votes to cut off debate on legislation beefing up background checks. Reid was asked Tuesday if he wound consider narrowing the scope of that measure.

            "We would hope it would have the votes. And I would be willing to do that. Anything we can do to focus attention on the senseless killings that take place," he said.

.            "We want to stop people who are felons from being able to purchase a gun. That's what that's all about."

September 16, 2013

White House says its too early to talk gun control after DC shooting

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said it's too early to talk about whether the Navy Yard shooting will provide new momentum for President Obama's stalled gun control effort -- but that Obama still hopes steps to curb gun violence are taken.

"It is far too early to say anything about who did this and the broader meaning of it," Carney said, several times refusing to engage. But he added that Obama expressed "significant disappointment with the Senate" for failing to pass gun control measures and would "continue to work to take action to improve gun safety, to reduce gun violence this country through executive action, and hopefully Congress will take action to reduce gun violence as well."

Reporters noted since Obama took office there's been at least 7 mass shootings: Fort Hood, Binghampton, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown and the Navy Yard.

"And then, countless other deaths," Carney said. "And this is why we should take action to reduce gun violence. We should take common sense action supported by Americans from every part of the country."

June 25, 2013

Giffords, Kelly embark on national tour to urge expanded background checks

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, will kick off a nationwide tour to push for expanded background checks for gun sales.

The “Rights and Responsibilities” tour will stretch from Nevada to Alaska to Maine July 1-7.

“I’ve been around guns my whole life, and I know that as an American, my right to own a firearm goes hand in hand with my obligation to be a responsible gun owner and to do my part to make sure guns don’t fall into the hands of criminals or dangerously mentally ill people,” Kelly said. “Gabby and I are excited to hit the road this summer and meet so many of the great Americans who are standing with us to fight for common-sense solutions to prevent gun violence and protect our rights.”

The Democratic-controlled Senate rejected a slew of gun control proposals – expanding background checks, renewing an assault weapons ban and limiting the size of ammunition clips – in April. 

Giffords and Kelly will begin the tour in Nevada before making stops in Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota and Ohio.

June 18, 2013

White House says it's nearly completed executive actions on gun control

Vice President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday that the Obama administration has "completed or made significant progress" on 21 of 23 executive actions to try to reduce gun violence developed after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

They include ending the freeze on gun violence research, addressing barriers that keep states from submitting records to the national background check system and making sure federal law enforcement agencies trace guns recovered in investigations.

Biden will give his first extensive remarks on gun control since the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected a slew of gun control proposals – expanding background checks, renewing an assault weapons ban and limiting the size of ammunition clips – in April. He will use his 1 p.m. event at the White House comlex to again urge Congress to act.

"The administration has work to do…but Congress must also do its job," a senior administration said in a preview of Biden's remarks.

The official declined to say who Obama or Biden has met with on Capitol Hill to try to change votes, but said that Republican and Democratic senators who voted against the popular bill to expand background checks have faced an intense backlash.

"The politics of the issue are starting to change," the offical said.

Following the school shooting in December left 20 children dead, Obama pressed Congress to pass the nation’s most aggressive gun control plan in generations. He also proposed 23 executive actions that required no congressional approval.

Also on Tuesday, the left-leaning Center for American Progress will call on Congress to remove language from the annual appropriations bill that prevents the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring dealers to conduct a once-a-year audit on their inventories for missing guns. Obama removed the language from his proposed fiscal year 2014 budget proposal to Congress.

Below is a list of executive actions:

Continue reading "White House says it's nearly completed executive actions on gun control" »

June 14, 2013

Supporters launch national bus tour to push lawmakers on gun control

Several families of victims of a mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. will launch a bus tour across the United States to urge lawmakers to try to reduce gun violence.

The “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence” bus tour will travel to 25 states in 100 days.

At each stop, participants will hold rallies with police, victims and elected officials -- both to applaud senators who voted to support expanded background checks and ask those who opposed the proposal to take a second look.            

States on the tour include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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June 13, 2013

Gun control supporters lobby on six-month anniversary of Newtown shooting

Six months after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., advocates for gun control renewed their push for legislation.  

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with families whose loved ones were killed who also had a day-long event at the U.S. Capitol to remember the 26 children and educators who dies in December.

They read the 4,800 people killed by guns since the tragedy in Newtown and observed a moment of silence and collected signatures to send a “No Father’s Day Card” to their members of Congress telling them to passing legislation that creates universal background checks. 

"We commend the families’ courage and perseverance in continuing to press for common-sense legislation to reduce gun violence, and we want them to know that as we approach the six-month anniversary of that terrible day, we will never forget, and we will continue to fight alongside them," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Continue reading "Gun control supporters lobby on six-month anniversary of Newtown shooting" »

June 05, 2013

N.J. governor lobbied to name a gun control supporter to Senate

That didn't take long.

Two days after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is being lobbied to name a replacement who supports expanding background checks for firearm sales.

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the pro-gun control group founded by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, sent an email to supporters asking them to sign a petition to be delivered to Christie.

"Frank Lautenberg spent a career working tirelessly to reduce gun violence in our country. He authored important legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and one of the final votes he cast was in support of expanded background checks. He was wheeled down to the floor for that vote, as his colleagues applauded his determination," the couple wrote. "Senator Lautenberg cannot be replaced. However, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie must now select a successor. And he should pick one who supports expanding background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the deranged."

The Democratic-controlled Senate fell short of having the votes needed to approve the proposal after most Republicans and a handful of Democrats rejected them. Advocates expect the legislation to return for a second vote later this year.

May 31, 2013

First Democratic senate ad runs away from Obama agenda

Mark Pryor of Arkansas on Friday became the first Democratic senator to air a TV ad in advance of next year's elections. 

And that first ad is decidely anti-Barack Obama and his agenda.

In the statewide ad, Pryor defends his decision to vote against an amendment pushed by the president to expand background checks for firearm sales.

“Nothing in the Obama plan would have prevented tragedies like Newtown, Aurora, Tuscon or even Johanesboro," he says looking into the camera. "I’m Mark Pryor. And I approve this message because no one from New York or Washington tells me what to do. I listen to Arkansas.” 

The four Democrats that opposed the legislation have been targeted by gun control groups and even left-leaning groups who supported the amendment. 

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, went on the air Thursday on radio and TV against Pryor. The group plans to send victims to his "Sportsmen Town Hall" in Little Rock Saturday to ask Senator Pryor to reconsider his vote on background checks.

"Mark Pryor had no problem listening to New Yorkers when he scooped up over a quarter of a million dollars for his campaigns from New York donors," said John Feinblatt, Mayors chairman and Bloomberg's chief policy advisor. "It's time for Senator Pryor to stop the hypocrisy and explain why he voted against a background check bill that 84 percent of Arkansans support."

Check out the ads below:

Continue reading "First Democratic senate ad runs away from Obama agenda" »


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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