White House: No New Gun Laws, Use Existing Law to Keep Guns From ‘People Who Should Not Have Them’

July 23, 2012 - 2:52 PM
Gun Politics

In this July 20, 2012, photo, President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the Aurora, Colo., shooting at an campaign event at the Harborside Event Center in Ft. Myers, Fla. Gun control advocates sputter at their own impotence. The National Rifle Association is politically ascendant. Obama pledges to safeguard the Second Amendment in its first official response to the deaths of at least 12 innocents in the mass shooting at the new Batman movie screening. Once, every highly publicized outbreak of gun violence produced strong calls from Democrats and a few Republicans for tougher controls on firearms. Now those pleas are muted, a political paradox that’s grown more pronounced in an era scarred by Columbine, Virginia Tech, the wounding of a congresswoman and now the shootings in a suburban movie theater where carnage is expected on-screen only. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama has no plans to push for new gun laws in light of the movie theater massacre in Colorado, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said over the weekend, even as other liberal politicians were calling for stricter gun control.

As a candidate for president, Obama favored restoring the so-called assault weapons ban that was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004. Aboard Air Force One en route to Aurora, Colo., Sunday, Carney took questions from reporters about whether Obama would seek gun control legislation.

“He believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons,” Carney said, according to the official White House transcript. “And there are a number of steps that have been taken and a number of others that can be taken to accomplish that goal.

“The Department of Justice can provide more details in terms of some of the steps that we've taken involving making higher quantity and quality of information available in background checks, and other measures they've taken which I know they can provide to you, working with law enforcement agencies,” Carney said. “But the president’s view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that’s his focus right now.”

A reporter asked, “In terms of like assault weapons or something like that, there's no renewed push for a renewed assault weapons ban?”

Carney responded, “Well, as you know, there has been opposition to that since it expired within Congress, and I think – I wouldn’t argue with your assessment about that. So the president is focused on doing the things that we can do that protect Second Amendment rights, which he thinks is important, but also to make it harder for individuals who should not, under existing law, have weapons to obtain them.”

Obama went to Aurora on Sunday after the movie theater massacre there at a midnight showing on “Dark Knight Rises” Friday, where 12 were killed and 58 were wounded.

The accused shooter, James Holmes, 24, is being held in Arapahoe County detention center and faces possible charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and weapons violations. The Associated Press reported that Holmes is not cooperating with law enforcement.

Police have said Holmes began buying guns at Denver-area stores nearly two months before Friday's shooting and that he received at least 50 packages in four months at his home and at school, according to the AP.

Two pro-gun control politicians said over the weekend that the Colorado shooting provided a basis for stricter laws.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg lectured both Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, for not stepping forward to advocate more gun control.

“This requires – and particularly in a presidential year – the candidates for president of the United States to stand up and once and for all say, yes, they feel terrible. Yes, it`s a tragedy. Yes, we have great sympathy for the families, but it’s time for this country to do something, and that`s the job of the president of the United States,” Bloomberg said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And I don`t know what they`re going to do, but I think it`s incumbent on them to tell us specifically, not just in broad terms.”

The mayor cited both Obama and Romney have advocated gun control measures in the past.

“Gov. Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts actually passed a ban on assault weapons and President Obama, when he came into office in 2008, said he would reinstitute the ban, the federal ban on assault weapons,” Bloomberg said. “And the governor has apparently changed his views, and the president has spent the last three years trying to avoid the issue or if he`s facing it, I don`t know anybody that`s seen him face it. And it`s time for both of them to be called – held accountable.”

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said allowing the “assault weapons” ban to lapse in 2004 was a mistake.

“He [Holmes] had a hundred round drum. This is a man who planned it, who went in and his purpose was to kill as many people as he could in a sold out theater,” Feinstein said. “I think -- you know, we've got to sit down and really come to grips with what is sold to the average citizen in America. I have no problem with people being licensed and buying a firearm. But these are weapons that you are only going to be using to kill people in close combat. That's the purpose of that weapon.”

She added, “I think that these weapons ought to be stopped. I think the sale and transfer. That's what my bill did for 10 years and since my bill expired.”