Today, President Obama announced his intention to put a plan for gun control before Congress by the end of January:
The president’s pledge came as House Republicans restated their firm opposition to enacting any new limits on firearms or ammunition, setting up the possibility of a philosophical clash over the Second Amendment early in Mr. Obama’s second term.
“This time, the words need to lead to action,” Mr. Obama said, referring to to past mass shootings that prompted outrage but led to little or no legislative changes.
He said the proposals would not be just about weapons. “We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to guns,” he said.
At an appearance in the White House briefing room, the president said he had directed Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to lead an interagency effort to develop in the next several weeks what the White House says will be a multifaceted approach to preventing similar mass shootings and the many other gun deaths that occur each year.
Mr. Obama, flanked by Mr. Biden, did not offer any specifics about the proposals. But he promised to confront the longstanding opposition in Congress that has previously blocked broad gun control measures.
“I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” Mr. Obama said. “It won’t be easy, but that can’t be an excuse not to try.”
The White House press corps responded by…asking about the fiscal cliff:
“We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care as easy as access to a gun,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence.”
His words, following five days of extensive news coverage and national debate, were intensely focused on gun violence. He addressed no other topics. Yet judging by the questions that followed his address, most of the members of the Washington press corps had other things on their minds.
“I’d like to ask you about the other serious issue consuming this town right now, the fiscal cliff,” was the first question, from The Associated Press’s correspondent, Ben Feller.
Mr. Obama answered. Then came the next question, again about the so-called “fiscal cliff”: “What is your next move?” Then: “You mentioned the $700,000, $800,000 — are you willing to move on income level?” And so on, for at least 15 minutes, before a question about gun violence was finally asked, by David Jackson of USA Today.