President Obama, in a statement mildly critical of the pro-gun lobbying group, the National Rifle Association, said on Wednesday that he hopes the group "will do some self reflection" after the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Time reports that obama also announced Wednesday that the White House will submit new gun-control proposals to Congress next month. The president made a pledge to “use all the powers of his office” to pursue new ways to confront the problem of gun violence and mass shootings.
According to The Huffington Post, President Obama made the statement at a press conference in which he announced a joint task force of Cabinet members and members of Congress led by Vice Present Joe Biden, charged with the duty of looking through existing gun-control proposals and coming up with "very specific" set of proposals for the Congress in January.
Time notes that the choice of Biden arises partly because he was involved in crafting the 1994 crime bill that banned assault weapons.
Digital Journal reports that Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, has also promised to introduce a bill to ban assault weapons, which President George W. Bush allowed to lapse in 2004.
Time reports that Obama, seeking to avoid harsh criticism of the NRA, restated belief in the Second Amendment. He expressed willingness to seek common ground with "responsible" gun owners. He said at the press conference: "There is a big chunk of space between what the Second Amendment means and having no rules at all,” and added, "The NRA is an organization that has members who are mothers and fathers, and I would expect that they've been impacted by this is as well. And hopefully, they'll do some self-reflection."
However, Obama emphasized that no single gun control legislation could "solve all these problems."
In the effort to address skepticism about the Biden-led task force, Obama said: "This is not some Washington commission.This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside... This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms, right now.”
The Huffington Post comments that Obama's criticism of the NRA remains subdued in comparison with statements from lawmakers such as Democrat Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.). According to The Huffington Post, the NRA has faced vociferous opposition from some prominent lawmakers and the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Democrat Rep. John Yarmuth, at a new conference on Monday, said the NRA "has spent untold millions of dollars instilling fear in our citizens and our politicians."
Yarmuth, criticizing the NRA, said the group "wants us to believe that the best protection against the irresponsible and lethal use of guns is for everyone to be armed."
The Huffington Post comments that Obama's guarded criticism indicates he is hoping there is still an opportunity to bring NRA to the discussion table
Digital Journal reports that the NRA has said it will hold a press conference on Friday to announce its plans for what it calls "meaningful contributions" to prevent mass shootings in the future.
According to The Huffington Post, it is uncertain what the "meaningful contributions" might be, but it is suspected that NRA may be suggesting that mass shootings are about mental health issues and not gun control.
Time notes that a number of NRA-backed Democrats have issued statements expressing their support for new gun restriction laws. One of such is Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a lifetime member of the NRA.
The decision of the Obama to met with Manchin on Tuesday is seen as signalling willingness to explore the possibility of working with the NRA. According to The Huffington Post, Manchin indicated earlier in the week that he would be willing to consider reforms to gun laws to prevent future tragedies. Manchin also said that NRA "must have a seat at the table" for any broad discussion of proposals for new gun regulations.
Following a meeting with Obama, Manchin, who is seen as a potentially influential mediator between the White House and NRA, said: "I know my friends at the NRA and those who support our Second Amendment rights will participate [in the broader conversation about gun control] because I know that their hearts are aching for the families in Newtown, just like all Americans.”
NRA membership surges
Meanwhile, Fox News reports that NRA membership is surging since the Sandy Hook massacre. According to Fox News, an internal memo shows that the group is gaining about 8,000 new members a day, far more than they gained in the wake of the Columbine massacre when membership saw a similar surge. The source also said that both the number of individual contributions to the NRA and average amount have risen significantly after Sandy Hook.
Gateweay Pundit reports the polls show that following the Sandy Hook massacre, 86% of Americans want more action to identify and treat mental illness. Only 27% say that stricter gun laws are needed.