Obama: No longer “an excuse for doing nothing” on gun violence

A Joe Biden-led task force will be required to put forward proposals "no later than January"

Topics: Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Gun Control, Gun Violence, Newtown school shooting,

Obama: No longer "an excuse for doing nothing" on gun violence (Credit: White House)

The president announced that Joe Biden will lead a task force to come up with proposals for how to deal with gun violence, in the wake of the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn. “If there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try,” Obama said.

Obama continued that there has been a conversation over the last few days about how we can “reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every day,” and “that conversation has to continue, but this time the words need to lead to action.”

“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 we can’t steadily reduce the violence.” He added that the task force will be required to come up with a “set of concrete proposals, no later than January, proposals that I intend to push without delay.

“This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s been handed down from generation to generation,” he continued, but “you know what, I am also betting that the majority, the vast majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible few from buying a weapon of war.”

When asked whether he believes the commission will, in fact, result in actual policy changes, Obama replied: “As soon as we get those recommendations I will put forth proposals,” adding that not having a ”sustained attention span to get this done over the next several months doesn’t make sense.”

Matt Bennett, vice president for public affairs for the Third Way, formerly Americans for Gun Safety, told Salon that he thinks the president is serious about reform: “This vice president doesn’t lead missions to nowhere. And from everything we have seen and heard from the WH, they want to pull out every stop and do all they can to make real progress.”



And prior to the press conference, Jon Chait at Daily Intel explained why the Biden choice could have some legs:

As for Biden, he’s been a longtime advocate for gun control, working as a senator to write and pass the 1994 federal assault-weapons ban and earning an F grade from the NRA, along with the title of “the most anti-gun vice president in American history.” So that’s a start.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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