Obama pledges gun violence laws

2012-12-31 08:01

Washington - President Barack Obama pledged to put his "full weight" behind a legislative package next year aimed at containing gun violence, recalling the shooting rampage that killed 20 elementary school students as the worst day of his presidency.

In an interview with NBC television's Meet the Press that aired on Sunday, Obama voiced scepticism about the proposal by the National Rifle Association, the leading gun-rights lobbying group, to place armed guards at schools in the aftermath of the December 14 deadly assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Instead, the president vowed to rally the American people around an agenda to limit gun violence, adding that he still supports increased background checks and bans on assault weapons and high capacity bullet magazines. He left no doubt it will be one of his top priorities next year.

"It is not enough for us to say, 'This is too hard so we're not going to try,'" Obama said.

"I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognise that we can't have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids," he added.

"And, yes, it's going to be hard."

Ready to meet with Republicans, Democrats

The president added that he's ready to meet with Republicans and Democrats, anyone with a stake in the issue.

The schoolhouse shootings, coming as families prepared for the holidays, have elevated the issue of gun violence to the forefront of public attention.

Six adult staff members were also killed at the elementary school. Shooter Adam Lanza committed suicide, apparently as police closed in. Earlier, he had killed his mother at the home they shared.

The tragedy immediately prompted calls for greater gun controls. But the National Rifle Association is strongly resisting those efforts, arguing instead that schools should have armed guards for protection.

Some gun enthusiasts have rushed to buy semiautomatic rifles of the type used by Lanza, fearing sales may soon be restricted.

Obama seemed unimpressed by the NRA proposal. "I am sceptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools," he said.

"And I think the vast majority of the American people are sceptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem."

The president said he intends to press the issue with the public.

"The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away," Obama said.

"It certainly won't feel like that to me. This is something that - you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it's not something that I want to see repeated."

National conversation about gun control

Separately, a member of the president's cabinet said on Sunday that rural America may be ready to join a national conversation about gun control.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the debate has to start with respect for the Second Amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees the right to bear arms and a recognition that hunting is a way of life for millions of Americans.

But Vilsack said Newtown has changed the way people see the issue. "I really believe that this is a different circumstance and a different situation and I think the president believes it as well, that this is going to be sustained conversation," Vilsack said on CNN.

Vilsack said he thinks it's possible for Americans to come together. "It's potentially a unifying conversation," he said.

"The problem is that these conversations are always couched in the terms of dividing us. This could be a unifying conversation and Lord knows we need to be unified."

Top priorities

Besides passing gun violence legislation, Obama also listed deficit reduction and immigration reform as top priorities for 2013 as well as deficit reduction.

A big deficit reduction deal with Republicans proved elusive this month and Obama is now hoping Senate Democratic and Republican leaders salvage a scaled back plan that avoids tax increases for virtually all Americans.

He also issued a defence of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who has been mentioned as one of the leading candidates to replace Leon Panetta as secretary of defence.

Hagel, who opposed former president George W Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq, has been criticised in conservative circles for not being a strong enough ally of Israel.

Many liberals and gay activists also have banded against him for comments he made in 1998 about an openly gay nominee for an ambassadorship.

Obama, who briefly served with Hagel in the Senate, stressed that he had yet to make a decision on a secretary of defence but called Hagel a "patriot".

"He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate," he said.

"Somebody who served this country with valour in Vietnam. And is somebody who's currently serving on my intelligence advisory board and doing an outstanding job."

Obama noted that Hagel had apologised for his 14-year-old remark on gays.

  • preshen.govender.12382 - 2012-12-31 08:38

    They should make bullets expensive like $5 000 each so it will be too expensive to shoot anyone

      FeebleGastro - 2012-12-31 10:36

      Eish man you are clevah, you can even be as clevah as ol' Zooma.

      james.looch - 2012-12-31 13:58


      tom.poe.12 - 2012-12-31 16:54

      Preshen is on to something here......

      archangel.zerachiel - 2012-12-31 17:21

      @tom.pooh.12: more like preshen is ON something.

  • BeonSmal - 2012-12-31 08:48

    So it is too much to ask to protect the kids at school... Be it against an knife wielding maniac or a gunman.

  • erich.goosen - 2012-12-31 09:07

    The Yanks have a fixation with firearms and reply on their Constitution to support their claims. What is further worrying is that dangerous weapons such as semi-automatic and large calibre arms are freely available. - 2012-12-31 12:37

      Lets see now you are proposing that legislation will change the behaviour of the deranged and criminal. Are you sure of your own sanity because it seems in doubt. The way to protect anyone is not to disarm those who could help. Your children will thank you for thinking about them and their safety and not your own paranoia.

  • roy.wadhams.1 - 2012-12-31 09:15

    The ANC made it difficult for law abiding citizens to own guns to protect themselves by using all sorts of excuses. Now every crook in the country can obtain firearms illegally and this useless ANC government can do NOTHING about it. In fact many of them most probably own illegal guns. Look how many guns are stolen from SAPS and some of their members are involved with many of these criminals.

  • michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-12-31 09:19

    COME ON FOLKS! look BEHIND all this. The fascist US govt can begin their mass arrests and enslavement if its population has guns. This is the first step to removing firepower from the population. 2nd amendment: Right to Bear Arms? we'll do away with that just like the 1st Amendment and 5th Amendment. Obama's going through the amendments one by one. He can declare war anytime he wants nowe, he can occupy any house and confiscate any property or equipment in the name of the war on terror. 911 was a false flag operation to stir the people. They gave away their rights, school shootings are the new falst flag operations, and now the Gov will have an excuse to remove the people's right to self protection and 2nd amendment rights will be a thing of the past soon

      goyougoodthing - 2012-12-31 10:12

      Absolutely right. I think, if he thinks hard about it, armed guards at schools is a great idea for the controlling elite. Armed men in your suburb...

      hildegard.cilliers - 2012-12-31 10:12

      @michael.j.anderson.144: Are you suggesting that the US government is behind the 911 attacks and also made this boy shoot his mum and all those teachers and children? To my mind this is about the gun control issue, not about conspiracy theories. Stricter gun control is not a bad thing: screen the prospective owners before issuing the licences. That way one can at least minimise the risk of a nutter getting hold of a gun and killing innocents. The basic human right to life stands directly opposite and equal(?) to their right to bear arms. But what on earth does a person want with a semi-automatic weapon? Kill zombies? Come on! A little perspective please?

      goyougoodthing - 2012-12-31 10:16

      Hildegard, you've missed a lot of history. Sure, no guns would be great, but get the bigger picture here. It is al about control, and it's no conspiracy theory anymore. It is happening all around you, open your eyes.

      tgenov - 2012-12-31 15:51

      @hildegard.cilliers what about the right to life opposite the right to freedom of movement? Yes, that tired old comparison to cars. What on earth do we need so many different cars for?

      valkerie.koekemoer - 2013-01-04 09:59

      @tgenov: I'm not following. Please clarify what you mean by 'tired old comparison to cars'? Thanks.

  • flysouth - 2012-12-31 11:06

    Obama is sceptical about having armed responders available on-site for the children of ordinary people - the very people who elected him and pay his damned salary? Really? Why then do his kids attend a school which has armed guards under a special licence whereby that school may ignore the law which demands, as all schools normally are, that it be designated a 'gun-free' zone? Why is he, his wife and kids invariably surrounded by Secret Service people all with guns ready to defend him and his family WITH GUNS AND LETHAL FORCE? Pulease! - the hypocrisy is beyond breathtaking - and, let's put it plainly, redolent of an evil and uncaring mind! - 2012-12-31 12:44

      Laws are not made for the elite and the chosen. You don't really expect Obama to admit that all such laws have failed miserably including the US assault rifle ban. But at least either Obama is not stupid or he cares for his children’s safety. Maybe a few gun control supporters can learn something from that.

  • tom.poe.12 - 2012-12-31 16:52

    Obama should muzzle his own guns on his drone bombers first.

  • archangel.zerachiel - 2012-12-31 17:20

    NO-Bummer: so why then do your children attend a school that is protected by armed guards carring automatic weapons? Your children more important that those at Sandy Hook? You sick tw@t!

  • archangel.zerachiel - 2012-12-31 20:56

    BTW: The nutter at Sandy Hook DID NOT USE A RIFLE AT THE SCHOOL. Only hand guns!! More lies spread by the gun-grabbers!!

  • archangel.zerachiel - 2013-01-04 21:59

    Did You Know? ? A 1997 high school shooting in Pearl, Miss., was halted by the school's vice principal after he retrieved the Colt .45 he kept in his truck. ? A 1998 middle school shooting ended when a man living next door heard gunfire and apprehended the shooter with his shotgun. ? A 2002 terrorist attack at an Israeli school was quickly stopped by an armed teacher and a school guard. ? A 2002 law school shooting in Grundy, Va., came to an abrupt conclusion when students carrying firearms confronted the shooter. ? A 2007 mall shooting in Ogden, Utah, ended when an armed off-duty police office intervened. ? A 2009 workplace shooting in Houston, Texas, was halted by two coworkers who carried concealed handguns. ? A 2012 church shooting in Aurora, Colo., was stopped by a member of the congregation carrying a gun. ? At the recent mall shooting in Portland, Ore., the gunman took his own life minutes after being confronted by a shopper carrying a concealed weapon. 2500 times last year alone legal gun owners stopped violent crime when confronted with it long before any police assistance Of course, you probably didn't know any of this because mainstream media doesn't find it worth reporting. It's not sensational enough and doesn't fit with their agenda. What's insane is people who think removing rights from responsible people will somehow keep them safe.

      terry.burne - 2013-01-07 22:27

      and did you know - that President Obama is not proposing to ban all guns!!!!!! just proposing to ban high calibre assault rifles and high capacity magazines. Why would someone need a high calibre assault rifle to go hunting?

      gary.landman - 2013-01-07 23:49

      Thanks you Archangel. Sanity.. and to you Terry Burne Please find me the definition of assault rifle. Who said anything is needed to "go hunting"? If I have the right to own a gun, then who's business is it as to the design? Also for all uninformed people who are jealous of the reedom in USA, all gun owners are required by law to be screened by the FBI on purchase of a firearm. The problem is, you are trying to argue that I am the same as the CRIMINAL / INSANE idiot who kills other people. Just by owning a gun,I am sudenly on the same level as those? Wrong! The fact is though, I can sleep at night knowing that I am able to protect my family.. you can't, but that does not make it nesesary to take my right away from me!

      gary.landman - 2013-01-07 23:58

      Also Terry Burne, what is a high caliber rifle? Are you aware that the rifle that all are yelling about is a AR15, and it is 5.56mm which is actually a .22 . For all the uninformed t#&$^s out there, get some knowledge BEFORE publishing your sensationalist DRIVEL on a public forum

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