News Daily Spot: Obama calls for states to lead on gun control as Congress still fails to act

more news

Obama calls for states to lead on gun control as Congress still fails to act

Source: TheGuardian

Barack Obama urged states to play their part in passing tougher gun control laws in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, despite uncertainty over the motives behind the attack that killed 14 people and left 17 injured.

Though acknowledging the possibility of terrorism, the president said the key conclusion that could be drawn so far was that guns were “too easy” to obtain for individuals wishing to do harm and that “basic steps” were needed to make it harder.

“It is possible that this was terrorist related, but we don’t know,” the president told reporters during brief remarks in the Oval Office. “It is also possible that this was workplace related.
“At this stage we do not yet know why this terrible event occurred,” he added. “We do know that the two individuals who were killed were equipped with weapons and appeared to have access to additional weaponry at their homes.”
Frustrated by repeated attempts to urge Congress to act on tighter gun controls, the president said: “I do think that as the investigation goes forward it’s going to be important for all of us, including our legislatures, to see what we can do ... So that when individuals decide they want to do somebody harm, to make it a little harder for them to do it. Because right now it’s just too easy.
“We’re going to have to, I think, search ourselves as a society to make sure that we take some basic steps that make it harder – not impossible – but harder for individuals to get access to weapons.”
Congress has failed since the Sandy Hook school shooting of December 2012 to pass any legislation to curb gun violence. Republicans led a filibuster that halted a 2013 bill which intended to bring in universal background checks for all gun purchases.
The president’s pointed use of the word “legislatures” in his remarks can be seen as a clear signal to states, which have taken matters into their own hands since Sandy Hook. In the past two years, legislation has been passed that would prevent domestic violence abusers from obtaining firearms in 15 states.
At least six states have also expanded background checks including Washington state, where the measure was placed in the hands of voters on the 2014 ballot. It overwhelmingly passed despite a competing measure from the National Rifle Association that would have loosened restrictions on gun sales. Advocates have said they expect to take a similar ballot approach to background checks in other states, likening it to same-sex marriage, where public support trumps the willingness of legislators to take action.
At the same time however at least 10 states have passed laws relaxing restrictions relating to buying and carrying guns.
Obama’s latest response – notably cautious on the motive behind the California shooting – followed a briefing he received by FBI director James Comey.
It was in stark contrast to the reaction of some leading Republicans who have seized upon the Muslim faith of the alleged attackers.
“All of us are deeply concerned that this is yet another manifestation of terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism here at home,” said presidential candidate Ted Cruz at a meeting the Republican Jewish Coalition on Thursday.
“Coming on the wake of the terror attack in Paris, this horrific murder underscores that we are at a time of war,” added the Texas senator. “Whether or not the current administration realizes it or is willing to acknowledge it, our enemies are at war with us.”
The president’s sentiment was echoed by an emotionally powerful statement from former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was badly injured in a 2011 shooting in Arizona.
“We wish we could use words like ‘unimaginable’ and ‘unthinkable’ to describe the horror that unfolded yesterday in San Bernardino,” she said in a statement issued with her husband, Mark Kelly. “But it is not. Not in our country.
“Other countries have evil people. Other countries have violent people,” they added. “But our country stands nearly alone in the rate of people murdered with guns. America is an extraordinary place. But these tragedies make us stand out in the worst of ways. This is not the America we strive for.”
Investigators are still trying to establish what led Syed Farook and his partner, Tashfeed Malik, to mount their assault in San Bernardino. They were killed in a police gun battle hours after they took part in the mass shooting that killed 14 people on Tuesday.
The couple were shot dead by police officers following a car chase through the streets of the city.
The chase came about four hours after Farook left a gathering of fellow public health employees of San Bernardino county where he worked. Police said he was angry and departed early, only to return with his partner. Both were heavily armed.

click here