In his first real push for gun control since he took office, President Obama charged his administration with creating a set of proposals to reduce gun violence Tuesday. He tapped Vice President Joe Biden to lead the task force and set a January deadline for the recommendations. He chose Biden to lead the task force because of his part in writing the 1994 assault weapons ban.
The task force will also include members of the president’s cabinet.
The president said at a news conference Wednesday that it has now been five days since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and while we may never know all the reasons why it happened, “We do know that every day since, more Americans have died of gun violence. We know such violence has terrible consequences for our society.”
The president then said that over the past five days, discussions have reemerged about what can be done to “reduce the epidemic of gun violence that occurs in this country each day.”
“This time, the words need to lead to action,” he said. “The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”
Obama said a majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before someone can make a gun purchase as well as banning military-style assault weapons and the sale of high capacity ammunition clips.
President Obama then talked about several other shootings that have occurred since Friday morning, including the killing of a police officer in Memphis and two in Topeka. He also mentioned the shooting at an Alabama hospital, and a 4-year-old who had been caught in a drive-by in Missouri.
“Each one of these Americans was the victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 Americans each year,” he said. “Violence that we cannot accept as routine.”
The president said he would use “all the powers” of his office to try and prevent future tragedies such as the one at Sandy Hook.
“We won’t prevent them all, but that can’t be an excuse not to try,” he said.