Obama Puts Biden in Control of Gun Control Initiative

President Barack Obama, official portrait

President Obama announced today that he has put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of his efforts for reform concerning shootings such as what happened last week at Sandy Hook. Vice President Biden is a long-time supporter of gun control.

Mayor Bloomberg of New York called a press conference in which he pushed the president to use his executive order powers to make a unilateral regulation which would be a de facto form of gun control. President Obama has refused this, at least so far.

Unless President Obama does decide to use his executive order power to make a sweeping change on his own, this process will take quite a while. For one thing, Congress is still embroiled in the “fiscal cliff” debate. If the president allows things to proceed normally, I would expect him to announce more specific changes at the State of Union Address. However, there is nothing written in stone about that assumption.

One question, at least for me, is whether or not anyone in this administration sincerely intends to discuss this problem and look for solutions. Are they just saying this with the intention to concentrate on a single-law answer? I am also concerned about civil liberties generally in this climate and with this president. He has already shown a willingness to trample religious liberties.

Right now, he has the backing of the public. I also expect most of the press to support whatever he does unthinkingly. A lot of people are signing on to vote for and support what he comes up with without having any idea whatsoever what it will be or what it will entail.

As for me, I will continue to urge Public Catholic readers to take a more thoughtful, comprehensive and long-term approach to thinking about this. Use your minds, and don’t let propaganda and emotion carry you away.

The Associated Press article describing President Obama’s new initiative says in part:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is launching an administration-wide effort to curbgun violence, underscoring the growing political consensus over tightening gun restrictions following the horrific massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Obama is tasking Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime gun control advocate, with spearheading the effort. In remarks from the White House on Wednesday, Obama will outline a process for pursuing policy changes following the school shooting, though he is not expected to call for specific measures.

The president has vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to safeguard the nation’s children after Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children and six adults were killed at the school by a gunman carrying an arsenal of ammunition and a high-powered, military-style rifle.

The White House sees some urgency in formulating a policy response to the shooting, even as Obama and his top aides are consumed with averting the “fiscal cliff” before tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January. The incident has prompted several congressional gun rights supporters to consider new legislation to control firearms, and there is some fear that their willingness to engage could fade as the shock and sorrow over the Newtown shooting eases.

Many pro-gun lawmakers also have called for a greater focus on mental health issues and the impact of violent entertainment. White House aides say stricter gun laws alone are not the answer.

“It’s a complex problem that requires more than one solution,” White House spokesman Jay Carneysaid Tuesday. “It calls for not only re-examining our gun laws and how well we enforce them, but also for engaging mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, educators, parents and communities to find those solutions.” (Read the entire article here.)

  • Bill S

    Regardless of what the government can or cannot do about this, there was one person who could have prevented this from happening. She herself was a victim, so it may not be appropriate to be too hard on her. But really, what kind of mother who has a son with mental health problems allows him access to guns? It’s inconceivable.

    So we need the government to compensate for the lack of good judgment on the part of a responsible adult. I’ve already heard one person lament that God has been taken out of the public schools. Irrelevant in this case. Mental health issues and deadly firearms is a deadly combination.

    I hope it is not too early to be discussing this, but the issue was raised.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      “So we need the government to compensate for the lack of good judgment on the part of a responsible adult. I’ve already heard one person lament that God has been taken out of the public schools. Irrelevant in this case. Mental health issues and deadly firearms is a deadly combination.”

      No argument that the mother showed incredibly bad judgment in this, and deserves the bulk of the blame in my opinion. I’m not sure if I agree that we “need the government to compensate for the lack of good judgment on the part of a responsible adult.” There are already laws which are intended to prevent those with mental illness from having access to guns. Maybe those laws need to be tightened up, but the general intention is already there.

  • vox borealis

    Mayor Bloomberg of New York called a press conference in which he pushed the president to use his executive order powers to make a unilateral regulation which would be a de facto form of gun control.

    Birds of a feather. Some people just love the idea of benevolent dictatorship, especially those in power, it seems.

  • Bill S

    I agree. I was just being sarcastic about needing the government to do the job of parents. It’s a real shame that someone’s poor judgment could result in such a tragedy.

  • http://www.Devotions4Him.com Jennifer

    I’m almost 40 years old and until January of this year I had never even shot a gun. Now I own two. One for “home defense” and one for concealed carry. I got my Concealed Handgun License during the summer. I’m actually proud of that fact. Why did I do that after all these years? FEAR. I heard one horror story too many. I have pepper spray that I carry and a 75 pound dog that’s protective of me and our home. She’s an awesome deterrent. Still I didn’t feel safe. What good is pepper spray when the criminal has a knife or gun? I refuse to be anyone’s victim or a statistic. I love and appreciate our Law Enforcement Officials but they can’t be everywhere 24/7 and I sure can’t carry one with me. I realized that I’m not powerless and if push came to shove I wanted to be armed. I go to the shooting range no less than once a month and practice. I’m not looking to be Rambo either. I’m not a gun loving nut job either. I enjoy the hobby though I never thought I would. I just want to live my life and be safe.
    Personally I think there are things that can be done to enforce/change the laws. A good place to start is to stop the nonsense of allowing people to purchase guns at gun shows without a background check. Who thought that was a good idea? I hate the general idea of banning any type of gun. Personally I don’t understand the draw of some of those high powered rifles or whatever. Perhaps those law abiding citizens that wish to shoot those particular weapons wouldn’t mind a stricter background check. I don’t know the answers but I do know all of them aren’t found in gun control. Changes have to be made across the board from guns to entertainment and mental health care.

  • Peg

    I’ve thought through most of what Jennifer has done and haven’t yet decided. The issue is much bigger than guns or laws for sure, but my biggest concern is that a tragedy and it’s emotions might be used to again chip away at the constitution.

    Hunting is an American tradition and is regulated by state agencies. Many hunters are respectful of firearms and some still hunt for subsistence. While I enjoy non consumptive outdoor sports I respect shooting sports and have enjoyed skeet. There is no need for assault weapons to hunt. I’m not wild about the NRA in this area and a few others.

    I am not opposed to tougher gun laws but how do we deal with the reality that those with criminal intent will not obey the law anyway? So I think we might be careful about how we restrict law abiding citizens.

    I know the issue is much bigger…Michael Moore noted in “Bowling for Columbine” that Canada has a lot of guns but not the gun Violence–why is that?

  • Bill S

    We had an assault weapons ban in effect from 1994 to 2004. It should have been extended but it wasn’t. Nancy Lanza would never have owned an assault rifle if it had still been in effect. How a law intended to protect society could be in effect for 10 years and then lapse without any action taken is inexcusable. Sure, we will have another assault weapons ban, but it won’t bring those children back. People should look at the history of the assault weapons ban and it’s sunset provisions. And they should ask about the power that the gun lobby has over our Congress. Then they should vote accordingly.

  • http://www.Devotions4Him.com Jennifer

    I’m with you Peg. Personally I wouldn’t care if they banned those high powered rifles but some people do care. I truly don’t understand the draw. I shot my brother in law’s rifle one time and it beat the heck out of me. I’ll never shoot one of those again. Sad to say but I don’t trust this administration not to use this as momentum to strip us of our rights. That’s the main reason I hate the idea of banning them but I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.
    As far as the CHL is concerned I just knew I had to do something. I’m single and I go a lot of places alone. When I realized fear was stopping me from doing certain things, I decided I wouldn’t allow it. That’s why I got my CHL. I live near Houston, and I know several police officers. They say the crime rate from the Mexican Cartel flowing this way is worse than the average citizen knows. I know how careful I am with my guns and how cognizant I am of the responsibility. However I also realize that not everyone is like that. It’s horrific beyond words that this murderous rampage happened. When I think about all those families and children…
    I just have to pray for wisdom and understanding for those officials making the decisions. It’s not an easy task before them. It’s an issue with multiple layers and no clear answer. God help us.

    • Bill S

      I think carrying a concealed weapon is just asking for trouble. You’re more likely to face charges for shooting someone than you are to use it for its intended purpose. There are just so many things that can go wrong. I’ve gone out to bars with cousins who carried and it didn’t make me feel any safer. What if I got in a fight with someone and instead of getting a little bruised and battered, I ended up a party to manslaughter? I suppose you are thinking of the hypothetical situation where you encounter a threat and you just pull out the gun to scare the perp away. Probably the only acceptable scenario and highly unlikely.

  • Sus

    Part of the appeal of weapons like what the shooter used in Newtown is that the gun doesn’t have a “kick” when fired. Pretty much anyone can fire it and continue to fire it until the bullets run out.

    I see no evidence of needing weapons to protect me and my family from the government. The gov has nukes, drones and other bombs if they want to do something.

    There are too many kids in my house to even consider having a gun. We could lock them up but what’s the purpose then if they are for home protection? Plus, I’m not trained. Someone could take the gun from me.

    If the laws aren’t changed now to close the loopholes like gun shows, then I have no hope that we’ll ever stop the violence with guns.

  • http://www.Devotions4Him.com Jennifer

    Thankfully I live in the great state of Texas. It’s my right to carry a concealed handgun providing I go through the proper channels, I did and therefore I carry. I practice and have gone to a few training classes. If I ever discharge my weapon you can sure bet it’s because I felt my life was in danger or one of those I love. Please hear my heart, I don’t want to live with the guilt of shooting another human being. I will shoot if my life is in danger. Again, I don’t want to and I hope and pray to God Almighty that it never comes to that. I’m not out to be a hero and protect the world from the bad guys. I just want to go about my life and be safe. Carrying a gun doesn’t guarantee safety but it might just even the odds if it came to that. Recently in the town where I live a man knocked on someones door with a loaded shotgun. Thankfully he was disarmed by the homeowner without a shot fired. That’s only because the bad guy was completely wasted. Hmmmm wasted criminal and with a loaded weapon -that law didn’t exactly work. In Texas you’re not supposed to even have a weapon out if you’re in inebriated. It’s against the law. Gosh, that criminal didn’t obey the law imagine that. First of all I NEVER answer my door unless I know someone is coming over. What was keeping the bad guy from blasting a hole through the door? It happens more than we know. It’s called home invasion. I’m female and although I am strong, I’m not going to leave my life up to chance. I have a defining moment of why I got my CHL. It’s private but it was because of absolute terror of what almost happened -to me not some stranger. I don’t live in Mayberry and frankly that idealistic town doesn’t exist. I live in the real world where real horrific crimes happen. The instructor for my CHL class told us story after story of people that took her class after the fact. She showed us newspaper clippings of each story she told. She wasn’t trying to drum up business either, we were already taking her class. One woman that was supposed to take the class with me (but wasn’t able to make it) signed up because she was a victim of robbery. Another woman was shot in the shoulder during a home invasion. These are true stories of people unprotected. It took Law Enforcement 20 minutes to get to the house of the woman who was shot. I don’t live in the ghetto either. I live about 30 minutes from Houston in the town where I grew up. I love this city. It breaks my heart that I no longer feel safe here. However, it’s not the same city where I used to play unsupervised until dark, and ride my bike to Wendy’s for a Frosty. Those times and ways have changed.
    I’m a very responsible gun owner, I have no children to keep away from the guns. When not in use my guns are secured but I sleep with one on the night stand. I keep one of the coffee table when I’m in the living room. I realize the norm is that most people do have children or other family members to concern themselves about. I can only speak for myself and what I feel comfortable with. I will not rely on anyone else to keep me safe. Criminals are all over the place, and try as they might LEO’s aren’t. They can’t be with me 24/7. There’s a billboard in town that has a picture of a lady with a police officer on her back. It says “why do I carry a weapon? Because he’s too heavy.” I don’t intentionally put myself in harms’ way or precarious situations…neither did the victims of the recent mass shootings.
    My (long) comment isn’t meant for debate. I’m not even saying I’m right and anyone else is wrong. I’m just sharing my experiences and why I made the decision to get my CHL. Sometimes it seems like people think those that own a gun or have a CHL want to enact some type of vigilante justice. That’s not true for me, I just want the protection. What’s right for me may not be for you. It is my right though and I decided to use it.

  • Peg

    Jenniffer I totally understand where you are coming from and am almost there myself. In my case I am holding off for now because I have children and live as close to a Mayberry type town as possible given today’s climate. That said we have even had a few horrible crimes. I have come over the years to support conceal and carry because the criminals will do it anyway so we might as well not limit our ability to protect ourselves. It can be very dangerous for women alone or women fravelling. I’ve learned a lot from hunters and folks in law enforcement and I can see myself making that decision someday as well.

    Until we can overcome this culture of death in this country, I wouldn’t begrudge anyone taking responsible steps to protect themselves and their families. Stay strong.