Carney on school shootings: 'Today is not the day' to discuss gun policy

White House press secretary Jay Carney said "today is not the day" to discuss gun laws amid reports that 27 people including children were killed at an elementary school in Connecticut. 

“We are still waiting for more information about the incident in Connecticut,” Carney said. “As we do, I think it’s important, on a day like today, to view this as I know the president, as a father, does, and others who are parents certainly do: which is to feel enormous sympathy for those families affected and to do everything that we can to support state and local law enforcement and to support those who are enduring what appears to be a very tragic event.”

Carney added that there would be "a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I do not think today is that day.”


Asked later in the briefing if the president remained committed to a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, Carney acknowledged as much but quickly pivoted from a policy discussion.

"It does remain a commitment of his," Carney said. "What I said is today is not the day, I believe as a father, to engage in the usual Washington policy debates. I think that day will come, but today is not the day."

But when President Obama addressed the nation later in the day, he vowed that "it is time to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics," an indication that the president could be prepared to confront gun control.

Carney said Obama had been in contact with Connecticut Gov. Dan Malley and FBI Director Robert Meuller as details of the shooting emerged.

The president called "to express his condolences and concern for those who have lost loved ones, as well as those who were injured," Carney said.

Carney added that although he could not yet confirm specific details, he knew that the president was likely mourning the loss of life. CBS News has reported that 27 people were left dead in the shooting, including 18 elementary school children.

"As a father, incidents like these weigh heavily on him, and I think everyone who has children and can imagine the enormous suffering that accompanies an event like this," Carney said.

Carney also said it was possible the president would address the incident later in the afternoon.

"It's certainly possible, if not likely, the president will have something to say" later in the afternoon, Carney said, adding that he was unsure if that would come in the form of a written statement or comments from the president.

Obama called for a renewal of the assault weapons ban during a July speech to the National Urban League in New Orleans.

"I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms," Obama said. "But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not on the streets of our cities."

He reiterated that call during the second presidential debate, saying part of the solution to gun violence "is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced."

The president has also called for stepped up background checks on those who want to purchase guns, although the White House had previously said that the president was not necessarily proposing new legislation on that front.

This story was posted at 1:45 p.m and updated at 2:06 p.m.