In a press briefing today, President Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden would be leading a gun control task force that will examine the nation’s gun laws and come up with new reforms designed to (in theory) reduce gun violence.
“We have a deep obligation – all of us – to try” and end gun violence, Obama said from the White House podium. “This time, the words need to lead to action.”
“It won’t be easy, but that can’t be an excuse not to try,” he continued.
President Obama said that he expects the task force to act immediately, to have proposals ready by the end of January, adding that this is not “your typical Washington commission.”
Biden got the job, Obama said, because of the key role he played in authoring the 1994 crime bill that included the Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004.
The president also made a direct appeal to gun owners, suggesting that there is plenty of common ground between the two sides.
“The fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible,” he said. “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 law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war.”
When asked specifically about the National Rifle Association and how the nation’s gun lobby might respond to such comprehensive gun control reform, Obama referenced, once again, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which is – of course – the impetus behind this call to action.
“The NRA is an organization that has members who are mothers and fathers, and I suspect that they’ve been impacted by (the Newtown shooting) as well.”
Obama declined to go into great detail on which gun control measures are on the table, but gun owners should expect to see the following mentioned over the course of the next several weeks: universal background checks on all firearms transactions (closing the inaptly named ‘Gun-show Loophole’), a renewal of the Clinton-era Assault Weapons Ban (which includes a ban on high-capacity magazines), restrictions on the sale of ammunition (particularly via the Internet), and more thorough background checks, among others.
Additionally, gun owners can expect the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to play a bigger role moving forward. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said that in addition to gun control reform, a “strong” ATF was essential to curtailing gun violence.
At this point, it’s difficult to say what measures will gain traction in Congress and what measures will fall by the wayside, mostly because there has been very little communication from our pro-gun leaders and lawmakers in Washington.
Who will stand strong for gun owners? Who will cave under the political pressure?
With that in mind, the NRA is holding a press conference this Friday; let’s hope they’ve assembled a plan or a response that challenges the rationality and effectiveness of what’s to come from this gun control task force for the stakes couldn’t be higher – our Second Amendment rights as we know them hang in the balance.