(The Hill) – President Obama on Sunday said he would make gun control a priority in his new term, pledging to put his “full weight” behind passing new restrictions on firearms in 2013.
“I’m going to be putting forward a package and I’m going to be putting my full weight behind it,” Obama said in an interview aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’m going to be making an argument to the American people about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again.”
In the wake of the Dec. 14 mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., school, the president has launched a White House task force led by Vice President Biden to present proposals in January to help stem gun violence. Obama has said that he would seek a broad approach to the problem addressing the role of violence in entertainment and measures to improve mental healthcare.
But he has also called on Congress to move quickly to reinstate the federal assault weapons ban and a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines.
Obama on Sunday repeated those calls and said he would meet with lawmakers on both sides of the aisles to see action.
“I’ve been very clear that an assault-rifle ban, banning these high capacity clips, background checks, that there are a set of issues that I have historically supported and will continue to support,” the president said.
“I’d like to get it done in the first year. I will put forward a very specific proposal based on the recommendations that Joe Biden’s task force is putting together as we speak. And so this is not something that I will be putting off.”
But the push for heightened gun control will likely face tough political opposition, with the nation’s largest gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), saying they will oppose any new restrictions.
The group earlier this month held a press conference calling for national program to place armed guards in the nation’s schools, a move they said would be more effective at preventing future tragedies like in Newtown.
Obama in the interview said that he hoped to involve all “stakeholders” in the national debate over gun violence, but he expressed unease with the NRA’s proposal.
“I am not going to prejudge the recommendations that are given to me. I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools. And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem,” he said.
Obama said that he expected even firearm owners to understand the need for new regulations in the wake of the Connecticut shooting spree that killed 20 young children.
“I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can’t have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high-capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids,” Obama said.