On Monday, at the final press conference of his first term, President Obama briefly addressed his administration’s gun control agenda for 2013.
In response to a question about what types of gun control reform the public should expect from his gun control task force, which is being spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden who will present final recommendations tomorrow, Obama said:
“What you can count is, is that the things that I’ve said in the past — the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of folks who shouldn’t have them, an assault weapons ban that is meaningful — that those are things I continue to believe make sense.”
As far as the political feasibility of each of those three measures (universal background checks, renewed ‘assault’ weapons ban, and a ban on high-capacity magazines) passing through Congress, Obama was cautiously optimistic.
“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know,” said the President. “But what’s uppermost in my mind is making sure that I’m honest with the American people and with members of Congress about what I think will work, what I think is — is something that will make a difference.”
Later on, after a painful Q&A over the debt ceiling, another reporter asked President Obama about the possible use of ‘executive action’ to push through various gun control measures.
“Well, I think, for example, how we are gathering data, for example, on guns that fall into the hands of criminals and how we track that more effectively — there may be some steps that we can take administratively, as opposed — through legislation,” said Obama.
This falls in step with claims made by Biden that the administration would seek to ameliorate the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, demanding that all states report mental health records to the system in a timely manner, and provide additional funding to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives so that the agency can do a better job cracking down on domestic straw purchasers and other gun offenders.
Obama also addressed booming gun sales around the country following Sandy Hook, the fact that gun owners are going out in droves to purchase firearms and accessories that are legal today, but may be banned tomorrow.
“As far as people lining up and purchasing more guns, you know, I think that we’ve seen for some time now that those who oppose any common-sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government’s about to take all your guns away,” said Obama, adding “And you know, that — there’s probably an economic element to that. It obviously is good for business.”
Obama then pledged that “responsible gun owners” have nothing to “worry about.” Do you believe him?
From this writer’s vantage point, there’ something incredibly unsettling about his word choice here, “an assault weapons ban that is meaningful.” It appears Obama is in favor of one that has real teeth, a draconian version, an AWB like the one Sen. Dianne Feinstein is set to introduce into the Senate in the very near future.
Though, with respect to Feinstein’s AWB being passed into law, perhaps gun owners can find some solace in comments made recently by NRA President David Keene, who – to some extent – allayed our fears.
“When a president takes all the power of his office, if he’s willing to expend political capital, you don’t want to make predictions,” Keene told Fox News. “You don’t want to bet your house on the outcome. But I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress.”
I suppose I’m torn, half of me believes that my fear about draconian/confiscatory gun laws being enacted is overblown, while the other half believes my fear is completely justified. Your thoughts/mental state at this critical juncture?