Report: Obama asks Cabinet for proposals to stem gun violence

President Obama on Monday directed members of his Cabinet to propose measures to help reduce gun violence, in the wake of a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

The administration’s push to stem further killings will be spearheaded by Vice President Biden, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the effort.

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The president’s directive is the latest sign that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last Friday may have shifted the conversation over the nation’s gun laws.

The massacre, which claimed the lives of 20 children, has sparked renewed debate over gun control, as well as larger issues targeting mental healthcare and the role of violence in popular culture. 

Reports said the president met with Biden on Monday to discuss heading the administration’s efforts. 



Obama also spoke with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking them to “begin looking at ways the country can respond to the tragedy in Newtown,” according to a White House official, as reported by the Post.


It is unclear though what steps the president would support to address gun violence. 

President Obama, speaking at a vigil for the victims on Sunday, pledged he would “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens from law enforcement, mental-health professionals to parents and educators in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday also indicated that the president would take a broad approach to the epidemic of gun violence. Carney called the issue a “complex problem that will require a complex solution.” 

“No single piece of legislation, so single solution, will fully address the problem,” he added.

Carney said there was no specific timetable and no policy plans the administration was immediately ready to endorse, however.

But the White House has already begun to mobilize public support for the president’s efforts. On Monday night, the Obama campaign used their email list, sending supporters a message directing them to a video of the president’s speech in Newtown. 

In the email, senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod called on supporters to “consider how each of us can play a part in making our country worthy of the memory of those little children.”

Any efforts at new gun restrictions, however, could expect to face opposition from Republican lawmakers and pro-gun rights groups.

The president, though, can expect support from many Democratic lawmakers, including some who have been supporters of gun-ownership rights, for action.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the Senate floor Monday said he hoped to “engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow violence to grow.”

Reid received support from the National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s most prominent gun-rights advocacy group in 2010, after he helped defeat efforts to renew a federal assault-weapons ban. 

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), who have also received NRA support, also said this week that they would be willing to consider new measures to stop future mass killings. 

Longtime gun-control advocates are also planning to reintroduce measures in the coming weeks to tackle gun crime. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has said she intends to re-introduce an assault-weapons ban at the start of the next session of Congress and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) hopes to revive his proposals to ban the sale of high-capacity gun magazines. 

Lawmakers, though, are also pressing for a broader discussion beyond debate over heightened gun-control restrictions.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Sunday called for a “national commission on violence.” 

And Manchin on Monday urged his colleagues to “address the causes of these tragic crimes, including mental-health treatment, military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and our culture, which seems to glorify violence more than ever in our video games and movies.”