Emanuel: Obama ‘very clear’ on supporting assault weapons ban

Chicago Mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended President Obama, saying he had always been “very clear” on supporting a federal assault weapons ban.

During an interview on “CBS This Morning,” host Norah O’Donnell questioned the president’s commitment to reinstating the ban, and cited past news reports which suggested that Emanuel had himself expressed concerns in 2009 about the political backlash from reviving the ban.

But Emanuel said the president has been a consistent supporter of the ban. “President Obama always stood for getting something done,” he said.

“The president’s record is very, very clear on this,” he added. “It’s clear when he was a state senator, it was clear when he was also a United States senator, it’s clear also as president. He was dealing as you all know with a myriad of issues and he was pushing very hard to make sure we had the funding to do everything we needed to do in the Justice Department.”

Emanuel’s comments come amid a renewed national debate on gun crime, following a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last week, which claimed the lives of 20 children.

The president has vowed to use “whatever power” he holds to help prevent future gun violence. Reports said Obama on Monday directed members of his cabinet to propose measures to address gun crime, but it is unclear what steps the president would endorse.

Last week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that reinstating the assault weapons ban "does remain a commitment" of the president.

Obama pressed for reviving the ban as a candidate in 2008, but did not push the issue during his first term.

On Monday, Carney clarified that there was no timetable set for the president’s actions addressing gun crime and no specific policies the administration was ready to publicly back currently.

But any new measures to reinstate the ban or pass other restrictions could face opposition from pro-gun rights advocacy groups and Republican lawmakers.  

Emanuel said it would be a tough task to take on the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun-rights advocate. 

“Having fought to pass the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban, the last time you really had gun control, it is very hard. But that’s why what you need to focus on is criminal access and the type of guns and make it a law enforcement issue. “

Since the Newtown tragedy, many longtime Democratic lawmakers who have fought for heightened gun-control though say they are ready to act. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her colleague New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) are both working to reintroduce measures to reinstate the assault weapons ban and restrictions on the sale of high-capacity magazine clips.