White House And Press Corps On Gun Control, Pre-Sandy Hook

Dec. 14, 2012: Mass Shooting At Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 11/26/2012

 

Margaret.

Q Thanks. I had a couple questions around President Obama’s upcoming meeting with the Mexican President-elect on immigration and on gun control. And I’m wondering what kind of assurances can the President give the incoming Mexican leader about any improved prospects for immigration reform? And if we can revisit the topic of the assault weapons ban? Is he looking at pushing for a reintroduction of the ban any time soon? Can you tell us anything specific? Is this going to be part of their discussions when they meet?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have an agenda for their discussion. I think it is something the President looks forward to, meeting the President-elect of Mexico, President-elect Niño — sorry —

Q Nieto.

MR. CARNEY: Thank you. But as for immigration reform, I can tell you that the President does believe, as he’s made clear — made clear I think on Election Night and has frequently since — that there is a real opportunity here to move forward. And the President is committed to that.

He believes that comprehensive immigration reform is achievable, that it requires bipartisan support and that that is achievable, because there has been in the past bipartisan support for immigration reform. And he thinks it’s important not just for specific communities that would be affected by it, but for the American economy. And we’ll be pressing for action on immigration reform. And to the extent that might come up in the President’s meeting with the President-elect that would be his message.

Q Does the President believe that the 2012 general election results give the Republicans added incentive to get on board with an immigration reform deal? Is that something that he would tell the incoming Mexican leader?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think it is certainly true that there’s been a lot of analysis around that subject. And the President is certainly a keen observer of politics in Washington and how they work, and I don’t think any of us would disagree with the general proposition that there is both substantive and political incentive to try to achieve immigration reform when it comes to the Republicans.

Q And the assault weapons ban?

MR. CARNEY: Well, the President has long supported the reinstatement of that. When he’s asked about this — and was not that long ago — made clear that Congress — that there are issues here in dealing with Congress on taking those kinds of measures.

So I don’t have any update for you on what his approach will be moving forward, but he has certainly supported reinstatement.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 8/7/12

 

Chuck Todd: 

Q Let me ask you about guns. You were very careful yesterday on the Sikh shooting and on Aurora, basically saying that it’s too early to talk about policy. When is it appropriate to talk about policy? When does — does the President believe we have a gun problem in this country, that access to guns is too easy?

MR. CARNEY: The President believes we have a violence challenge in this country, a violence problem that we need to address and come at from a variety of fronts, because it is not a problem that is just related to gun laws. The President believes that when it comes to firearms, that we need to take common-sense measures that respect and uphold the Second Amendment rights of the American people.

Q Are there enough measures on the books?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I was asked about the assault-weapons ban, which the President supports reinstating. So I think, in that regard, he believes that Congress has not, but should, take action on that. But beyond that, he thinks that we are — that we can, recognizing a stalemate in Congress, recognizing the difficulty of moving forward even with something like that, that there are measures he can take, directing his administration, his Department of Justice, to make it harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law from obtaining them by improving and enhancing our background check system, on which progress has already been made, and by directing, as he has since he took office, his administration to work with local communities, local law enforcement, to address violence from a variety of angles, including through education and other means.

So I think the point the President was trying to make in New Orleans, and did make, and that I’ve reiterated from here, is that these horrific incidents, like we saw in Aurora and like we saw outside of Milwaukee, are terrible, but we should not forget that violence occurs in America too frequently all the time. And it is a problem that needs to be addressed on multiple fronts.

 

Gaggle with Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest aboard Air Force One en route Stamford, CT 08/06/2012

 

Q Harvey Weinstein has made some comments recently about the need for gun control. And in light of the temple shootings in Wisconsin this weekend — and he’s talked about the movie industry’s role in glorifying violence sometimes. Does the President have any plans to discuss that tonight?

MR. EARNEST: Well, I don’t know that there will be anything in the President’s prepared remarks this evening. But Jay talked about this pretty extensively during the briefing, about the President’s commitment to protecting Second Amendment rights while ensuring that we make maximum use of the laws that are currently on the books to ensure that people who don’t — who shouldn’t have guns aren’t able to get them.

The President talked about this pretty extensively in his speech to the Urban League a couple of weeks back. But I don’t know that he is going to — that he’s planned to make any additional remarks on that today.

MS. PSAKI: — you probably saw this or you may have been en route — he did talk about the need to do some soul-searching, because of the frequency of the type of events, tragic events, that happened this past weekend and in Colorado. So he did touch on it today.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 8/6/2012

 

Associated Press: Q On another topic, we had another horrific shooting, this one in Wisconsin. And after the Aurora shooting, the President said in his speech to the Urban League that he would talk to anybody, any party, about issues of gun violence and gun control. I’m wondering if there are any plans for him to actually do something about that, now that we’ve had a second shooting in a couple of weeks here.

MR. CARNEY: Well, let me say at the top that the President and the First Lady, as was noted yesterday, were deeply saddened to learn of this tragic shooting that took so many lives. The President made clear that his administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials responding to this event and to the investigation, which the FBI, as you know, is involved in. The President also made clear — and this is important — how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.

As you know, the President was notified shortly before 1:00 p.m. by his Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, yesterday. Later in the afternoon, the President convened a call with FBI Director Bob Mueller, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and Homeland Security Advisor Brennan to receive an update. Following that briefing, the President called the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi, and Trustee of the Sikh Temple Charanjeet Singh to express his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured.

On the broader issue that you mentioned, I think what the President said is still the case. He believes that we have a broader issue with violence in America that needs to be addressed from a variety of angles, including efforts that this administration has undertaken to work with local communities to try to get children out of gangs, to get kids out of gangs, to get kids back in school, working with local law enforcement in their efforts to fight crime.

Incidents like this are horrific, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to the Sikh community in Wisconsin. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that there is violence all the time in America and that we need to take concerted action to deal with it.

Q But no specific plans —

MR. CARNEY: I have nothing new to announce. I mean, he did very recently give those remarks at the Urban League and he’ll continue to instruct his administration to take action towards common-sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, but make it harder and harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law to obtain them. Some progress has been made on those instructions with regards to our background check system. And the President will continue to press that, as well as pressing the variety of ways that this administration is assisting local communities in their efforts to combat violence…

Q Does the President share Minority Leader Pelosi’s view that even if Democrats controlled Congress, there still wouldn’t be the votes for significant gun legislation? And is that why the White House hasn’t pushed for new or tougher legislation more strongly?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think the President has made his views plain on this, which is that he is for common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights — very important Second Amendment rights that American citizens have, but that make it harder and harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law from obtaining them.

There is no question that there has been a reluctance to act in Congress on these issues. Whether that will continue to be the case in the future is anyone’s prediction. The President is focused on the progress we can make along the lines I just described.

So again, his positions on various issues I think we’ve talked about. He believes that we can take action within the existing environment that moves the ball forward in terms of enforcement, that enhances background checks, that makes it harder for those who shouldn’t have weapons under existing law — makes it harder for them to obtain weapons, but continues to ensure that Second Amendment rights are protected.

Q But does anything — either one of these incidents suggest that there need to be new gun control legislation?

MR. CARNEY: I think the President addressed this at the Urban League, John. And his view is, as I’ve said, that we need to take common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights and make it harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law from obtaining weapons.

I think he made clear, too, in his speech in New Orleans that violence in America is a problem that is greater than just the issue of gun laws. And he talked very clearly about the prevalence of violence in America, that even as overall statistics show that crime has gone down over these last many years but there is still too much violence. And incidents like the ones you mentioned are horrific, and our hearts go out to the victims of such appalling acts of violence, but we should not forget that there are victims of violence every day in America, and we need to address that problem in a concerted way that deals with education and summer jobs and other ways to help address the violence problem in America…

Dan Lothian: 

Q Can I get your reaction to this new ad that Mayor Bloomberg and other mayors have put out asking for the President and Mitt Romney to come up with a plan to combat gun violence? Have you seen this ad? Any reaction to it?

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t. I would simply point you to what I said earlier in answer to other questions about the President’s views on this, which he expressed in New Orleans at the Urban League, and the broader issue of violence in America that needs to be addressed, and addressed from a variety of angles, because it’s an issue that transcends these incidents of horrific violence that we see periodically, and it’s an issue that transcends legislation passed by Congress with regards to firearms. And we need to go after it on every front.

And that’s why the President has instructed his Justice Department to make progress in enforcing existing law and enhancing background checks to make it harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law from obtaining them. It’s why he has, since he took office, instructed his administration to work with local communities in combating violence from a variety of different approaches…

Laura.

Q Just returning to guns for a moment. You’ve said, in response to a bunch of questions, that he supports enforcing — better enforcing existing laws. His position in the past has been in favor of renewing the assault weapons ban, which would, at this point, be a new law. He also said in New Orleans that AK-47s belong on the battlefield, not on the streets. Does he still support that legislation?

MR. CARNEY: He does. And I’ve said that before from the podium in the last week, that he does support renewing the assault weapons ban. I think what I’ve noted in the past, and what I noted here, is that there has been reluctance by Congress to pass that renewal.

Q What’s considered sort of an update of that legislation is the amendment that you were asked about a couple of times last week, which was to ban high-capacity magazines. That’s viewed by advocates as essentially accomplishing the same thing in a better way. And when you were asked about that in the past, you didn’t have a position. Do you have — does the administration have a position on that?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think the legislation on this issue broadly, whether it’s the specific piece of legislation that you mention — if such legislation emerges, the President will evaluate it, the White House will evaluate it, guided by the principles that I talked about earlier, which is his desire to make it harder for people who should not have weapons under existing law from getting them, and under the principle that we should not infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. But I’m not going to speculate about pieces of suggested legislation. If something emerges from Congress we’ll certainly evaluate it.

Q Well, it’s introduced; it wasn’t just —

MR. CARNEY: Well, I know, but — and I think we’ve noted where Congress is on these issues. If something emerges from Congress we’ll certainly evaluate it.

Q And the other thing you talk about on this issue is the national dialogue on issues beyond just gun control, but violence, and you point out that he gave that speech. Does he feel like that speech has sort of accomplished his part of this dialogue, and now it’s up to others?

MR. CARNEY: I’m sure he will discuss these issues again in the future. I think you’ve asked on a number of occasions for specific dates when he might speak again. I don’t have any announcements to make on that. But the President has addressed this on several occasions and I’m sure will again in the future.

Q Does he feel like that speech accomplished its purpose?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t think he does feel that the goal of addressing violence in America has been achieved, and that’s why we need to continue to work collectively on efforts across the board to reduce violence in America.

Christi Parsons.

Q Jay, when the President disagrees with Congress’s decision not to take up legislation like this, he goes out in the country and tries to pressure them publicly, and even shame them into doing that. Is this — does this fall under the same category, the assault weapons ban, or some version of it?

MR. CARNEY: There’s a lot of legislation the President has a position on. He believes — his support for renewal hasn’t changed. I think we all recognize the situation in Congress with regards to that particular proposal as well as others. The President is focused, as he talked about in New Orleans, on doing what he can, through his Department of Justice, to take common- sense measures that will enhance our security by improving background checks and making it harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law from obtaining them, and working more broadly to address the issue of violence in America. Because, as I’ve said now on a couple of occasions, the issue, as the President sees it, transcends legislation relating to guns; it has to do with a whole variety of factors, and should be addressed accordingly.

Q But he’s been successful at pressuring Congress to take up specific legislation. Does he view this as less possible?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m not going to grade possibilities here. I think the President believes that we should — with Congress where possible, but administratively where allowed — take measures that enhance security by making it harder for those who should not have these weapons under existing law from obtaining them, but also protect our Second Amendment rights. And he’ll continue to do that.

April Ryan.

Q Thank you. Going back to the gun issue, what is the threshold when this administration will say when it’s time to take the gun issue out of that broad basket of violence and focus straight on — I mean, in recent weeks we’ve had two fatal, horrific shootings. When does this administration take it out of that violence basket and put a spotlight specifically on it?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think, April, the question, as the President discussed in New Orleans, is not one of specific high-profile incidents alone. And the unfortunate reality is that while these terrible incidents get a lot of headlines, there is violence in America every day.

Q And a lot of it is gun violence.

MR. CARNEY: No question. But that’s why we have to work collectively towards addressing these issues in ways that reduce violence and include efforts to keep kids in school, keep them off the streets and from joining gangs, in efforts to, as the President has done through his Department of Justice, make it harder for criminals and others who should not have weapons under existing law from obtaining them. That’s the kind of comprehensive approach the President thinks we ought to adopt, and that he has adopted in office.

Q But, Jay, many of these acts you can’t police against — many in law enforcement say you can’t police against them. So when you can’t police against something like that, it would seem that the other half would deal with issues of gun control, of the assault weapons ban being — not renewing, but creating a new assault weapons ban. Why not now? Why not now?

MR. CARNEY: Again, I think I’ve answered this question a bunch, but the President’s approach is that we should work with Congress where possible, and administratively where allowed, to advance common-sense measures that enhance our security, that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn’t have them under existing law, but that protect Second Amendment rights, which the President thinks is an important goal as well.

I think that I can say that that’s the President’s approach. You heard it recently in New Orleans. I’m sure you’ll hear from him again on this issue. But I don’t expect his broader view here about the broader problem with violence in America is going to change because of a specific incident. It’s a broader problem that needs to be addressed from a variety of fronts.

Q My last question — so is the White House Office of Legislative Affairs actively working with congressional leaders, congressional staffers, now on issues of gun control and a new assault weapons ban?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any legislative update for you. I think Congress is out of session at the moment.

 

 

 

August 5, 2012: Sikh Temple Shooting, Oak Creek, Wisconsin

Daily Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 7/31/12

Kristen Welker: Q Jay, last week I asked you if the President supported the amendment to the cyber security legislation that’s being supported by Senator Schumer and other Democrats that would limit the purchase of high-capacity gun magazines. Have you had a chance to talk to the President about this and whether or not he supports it? Last week, you didn’t know.

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t spoken to him about it. But I do know and have talked to him generally about his approach to this, which is that he believes we ought to take action on common-sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of the American people while making it harder for criminals and others who should not have weapons under existing law — harder for them to obtain them. And I think that any legislation that might emerge from Congress would have to — would be viewed with those principles in mind.

Q Given the fact that the President talked — spoke at the Urban League about the importance of having a dialogue, about cracking down on gun violence, has he moved any closer to deciding whether to hold any sort of gun policy event to open a dialogue about this any further?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I have no announcements to make in terms of his schedule or speaking plans. But I would point you to the fact that he gave that address and to the fact that he spoke about the issue of violence at a higher level, that this is not just an issue of specific horrific incidents like that one that took place in Aurora, but the fact that we have levels of violence that are too high in many cities across this country, and that we need to address the problem from a variety of directions — not just through legislation that relates to guns but through action that we could take and are taking in assisting local law enforcement, local government; action that we can take to ensure that teenagers who might be prone to or vulnerable to falling into gangs are instead in school or have summer programs that keep them off the streets. These are the kinds of things that are part of a broader approach to dealing with violence.

Q Well, I guess, what’s the next step? In addition to speaking about it at the union [sic] league, what’s he —

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t have — the President has directed his Department of Justice to continue to take action, common-sense action that makes enforcement of our existing laws more effective, prevents criminals and others who should not have weapons from getting them. And he will, I’m sure, continue to hold the position that he talked about at the Urban League and talked about in Tucson and talked about in the op-ed that he wrote about the broader issues of violence and how we should address it.  

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 7/27/12

 

Q And, Jay, domestically, Senator Schumer and six other Democratic senators have offered an amendment to the cyber security bill that would limit the purchase of high-capacity gun magazines for some consumers. Would the President support such an amendment?

 

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t seen that legislation or had that discussion with him. I think as we discussed at length yesterday, the President believes that we need to focus on common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights but ensure that those who should not have guns under existing law cannot get them. We need to take a step back and have a broader discussion about the problem of violence and attack that problem from a variety of angles, including through assistance that this administration provides to local law enforcement and local governments, through programs that put teenagers to work and programs that get them off the street, and programs that help educate our young people and keep them away from gangs and away from violence.

 

So this is a broader problem, as the President sees it. But on that specific proposal, I don’t have a response because I haven’t seen it and haven’t discussed it with him.

 

Laura.

 

Q Following up on Kristen’s question, you said that the goal right now is to have a conversation about gun violence. What is the President planning on doing to advance that conversation?

 

MR. CARNEY: I think you heard the President speak before a large audience two nights ago in New Orleans — I think it was two nights ago — on this issue. And I don’t have any scheduling announcements for you, but he has directed his Department of Justice to continue to find ways to make improvements in our background check system and other common-sense measures that we can take administratively to ensure that existing laws are enforced and ensure that those who should not obtain weapons under existing law, like criminals, cannot get them.

 

And then, more broadly, I think if you listen to what the President said in New Orleans and what he said in a hospital in Aurora, there is a broader issue here about violence — that it goes well beyond the question of legislation regarding weapons.

 

Q So going beyond the legislation, what he said in the speech was that he would “continue to talk to members of both parties, civic organizations and other who are interested in this issue.” And I’m asking if he has any specific plans to do that.

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I have no scheduling announcements to make to you. But I think —

 

Q But can you tell me whether he is planning to do it or not?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would point you to what the President of the United States himself said.

 

Q So he is planning to?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, that’s what he said.

 

Q So if he doesn’t, then —

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, look, the President will — has in the past and will continue to address the broader issue of violence. He will continue to direct his administration to take steps to assist local law enforcement and local government in their efforts to combat violence. And we’ll continue to insist that we need to take broader measures that assist young people — that ensure that young people get an education and stay in school — that also can contribute positively to reducing violence.

 

So I’m sure he will continue discussing these issues. And I point you to what he himself has said. But I’m not going to give you a date — just like I don’t give you a date when he is next going to give a speech on foreign policy or economic policy, I’m not going to give you a date on which he is going to make a speech about these issues.

 

Q From what I can tell, in between the op-ed he wrote in the wake of Tucson and the shootings in Aurora, he did not publicly address this issue at all. And so, I’m —

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m not sure that’s the case. A, I think he did, in getting asked about it and in other forums, discuss it — on the broader issue of violence. Secondly, in that period, at his direction, the Department of Justice made progress on the very issues that he asked them to make progress on, as we put out on paper and I’ve discussed here and on Air Force One.

 

Q But that doesn’t speak to creating a national dialogue on the issue or trying to find consensus on what he calls issues that should have common ground, common-sense efforts to try to control gun violence.

 

MR. CARNEY: But, Laura, I’m not sure of your point. He just gave a major speech in which he talked about these issues. He spoke about these issues in a hospital in Aurora, where he had just visited the families of those who lost their lives in that terrible shooting as well as those individuals who are recovering from wounds in that shooting. And he will, I’m sure, continue to talk about the steps that we need to take to address the problem of violence, and to address the problem of violence that is with us not just when we have these horrific events that garner headlines, but with us consistently around the country, as he mentioned in New Orleans.

 

Q So having given the speech, he has done that?

 

MR. CARNEY: Laura, you can continue to editorialize, but I’ve answered this question a bunch of times. I don’t have an announcement for when the President is next going to address this issue. He told you that he would and I would take his word on it. Thank you.  

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 7/26/12

Ben Feller: Q Thanks, Jay. I wanted to try to get some clarity about gun control and the President’s positions. Since the Colorado tragedy, you’ve been telling us that the President wants to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people under existing laws. And then, last night, to the Urban League, he said there have been actions taken, but they do not go far enough. He talked about AK-47s being kept off the city streets. And so I’m just trying to get clear — does he or does he not think that any new gun legislation —

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, let me back up a little bit and say that President Obama has called for common-sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and improve public safety by keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have them under existing law.

 

And, as I think you know, thanks to the administration’s efforts, background checks conducted on those looking to purchase firearms are now more thorough and more complete. The Department of Justice can provide more details on that.

 

I would also say that, or note, that the President made a broader point last night, which is that tackling the problem of violence is not just about gun laws. In communities across the country, the administration is partnering with local law enforcement and government officials to reduce crime, to connect young people with summer jobs, so they spend less time on the street, and to set up programs that steer children away from a life of gang violence and toward the safety and promise of a classroom.

 

We also must recognize that it is not enough to debate the role of government in reducing violence. It is up to parents, teachers, neighbors, and communities to make a difference in the lives of our young people as well.

 

I think that the point the President was making in the speech that he delivered last night was that we have to remember that in the wake of an awful event like the one in Aurora, Colorado, that violence is not an isolated incident in America, and that we need to take a broader look at it and try to tackle it from a number of different directions, which this President has been doing through his administration.

 

Q I get that broader point that he was speaking about more than the role of government and that was sort of part of the coverage. But I’m still not clear about the answer to my specific question. Does he think any new specific gun legislation is needed, or is existing — enforce existing laws is needed?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, he believes that we can enhance the enforcement of existing laws by making it more difficult for those who should not have weapons under existing laws, make it more difficult for them to obtain weapons. And that’s what his Department of Justice have been working on.

 

I think you’re aware of the fact that there is a stalemate in Congress on a broad range of issues, and this would include this one. The assault weapons ban is an issue that the President has supported the reinstatement of since its expiration in 2004.

 

But, given the stalemate in Congress, our focus is on the steps that we can take to make sure criminals and others who should not have those guns, make sure that they cannot obtain them.

 

Q So just two quick points. So does he plan to do anything, when he talked last night about working with Congress — no stone unturned — does he plan to do anything this year to make another case for that assault weapons ban?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m not going to make scheduling announcements in terms of what the President may or may not say in the future. What I can tell you is that the President’s point last night was broader. I think there is an issue about the stalemate in Congress, and there are things that we can do short of legislation and short of gun laws, as the President said, that can reduce violence in our society and, as he mentioned last night, in our urban centers.

 

So I think he — I know he will continue to press the Department of Justice to try to enhance the enforcement of existing laws, try to further develop our background check system so that it prevents criminals and those who should not have weapons from getting them under existing law. And he’ll continue to make sure that his administration is partnering with local law enforcement officials and government officials to try to do the things that I talked about at the top that can help reduce violence.

 

Q Last one. You focus a lot on background checks. Our reporting shows that the suspect in Aurora passed all of his background checks. Can you explain how even an enhanced background check system would stop something like this?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t think the President ever suggested that the background check can stop every crime from occurring in America, even one as heinous as this. I’m not going to get into the specifics of what happened in Aurora because there’s obviously an ongoing investigation.

 

But we do need to take a broader look at what we can do to reduce violence in America. And it requires a multi-faceted approach that looks at this problem from a variety of angles, and that’s not just legislative and it’s not just about gun laws. 

Q And then one more on the guns issue. These are some of the President’s strongest words yet on this issue. Does he feel like he has shown leadership publicly on the issues of guns during his term?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, the President’s feelings about this issue I think were reflected in what he said, and those comments and remarks echo what the President has said in the past. And I think he does take a broad view about the problem of violence and how we need to address it. He is very mindful of the need, when it comes to legislation, that we ensure that we protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding American citizens. That is very important to him. And he believes that we can take measures that improve public safety by preventing weapons from getting into the hands of those who should not have them, under existing law.

 

But there are broader aspects to this problem, as I talked about. And that’s why we need to not look at it through one single prism, but to examine ways that we can help address the problem through assisting local law enforcement officials or through the education system, the school system, help keep kids off the street and out of gangs, for example.

 

And the President noted, and as I just did as well, that it’s not just a governmental problem. It’s something that teachers, parents, neighborhoods and communities need to talk about and take action on to make a difference in the lives of those who might otherwise fall into violence…

Q On guns. I’m just asking. No one answered. You made a claim that he said that he has had a record on gun control. What is that? You were saying in the answer to Ben’s question, about the things he has done during this administration on the issue of guns. What has he done? I know he signed a law expanding gun rights in national parks and stuff, so that people can carry concealed guns in the national park. What else has he done?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I pointed to the measures that have been taken at his direction by the Department of Justice to enhance the quality of our background checks system that reduces the likelihood that weapons fall into the hands of criminals and others who should not have them under existing law. And those are actions that DOJ has —

 

Q — can you explain it a little bit?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t have the paper on them, but we — when this came up earlier in the week, or rather late last week, I think we had something that we passed out to you, and the Department of Justice has it. But they’ve taken a number of measures to increase the sort of quality — both the quantity of information and the depth of information that goes into the background check system. And that has a — that’s progress. That’s positive — it has a positive impact on the goal of preventing weapons that should not get into the hands of criminals under existing law from getting to those criminals.

 

Q Does he want Congress to vote on an assault weapons ban?

 

MR. CARNEY: He supports — and has from the beginning — the reinstatement of the assault weapons bans. I think you know very well that there’s a stalemate in Congress on that issue, as there is on so many issues.

 

Q You put — on the stalemate on taxes, you guys put your shoulder in on that, though, and you said, no, we want a vote. We insist on a vote. We demand a vote. You brought leaders down. Fair to say not the same level of concern on this issue?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would say that the President supports it. He recognizes there is a stalemate in Congress. He believes that anything Congress were to do must cross the threshold of protecting the Second Amendment rights of Americans citizens, law-abiding American citizens. And that while there is that stalemate in Congress, there are other things that we can do and we should do.

 

An action that he’s taken and an action that we don’t often talk about here, but those who cover federal law enforcement as well as education know about the programs that are in place to help local officials deal with violence in their communities, to help connect teenagers with summer jobs, to help keep teenagers off the streets and out of gangs — that’s all part of a broader effort to reduce violence.

April Ryan: 

Q And my last question, please. On gun control, what does this administration and you particularly say to Democrats, like Congressman Ed Towns of New York, who say there needs to be a serious discussion with both sides across the aisle on the issue of gun control? He says that, historically, we’ve seen Presidents killed by guns. We’ve seen urban areas, people killed by guns. We’ve seen civil rights leaders killed by guns. We saw Gabrielle Giffords shot. We’ve seen Columbine. We’ve seen Virginia Tech, and we just saw what happened at the midnight massacre. What say you when Democrats are calling for this, and they’re even — Congressman John Lewis, right after Aurora, even invoked Robert Kennedy, talking about are we tolerating violence and letting common humanity go. So what say you about that?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would say what I have been saying earlier in this briefing, which is that the President is focused on steps that we can take to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them under existing law. And because of those efforts, background checks are now more thorough and complete.

 

There is a broader issue that your question raises about violence in the country and in different areas of the country that needs to be addressed not just through legislation, and certainly not narrowly just through laws affecting guns, but that has to do with education and economic opportunity. It has to do with assistance to local law enforcement and government officials and their efforts in their communities. It has to do with teachers and parents and neighborhoods coming together to address this problem.

 

It’s not — as the President said last night, you have shocking events like the one that occurred in Aurora or at Virginia Tech, but the fact is there are far too high levels of violence occurring every day in the United States, and we need to take a comprehensive approach to that. And that’s what the President is trying to do — recognizing that, in terms of legislation, there are obstacles in Congress, and the President believes that we need to take measures that protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights while ensuring that those who should not have weapons do not get them.

 

Q So understanding this broad base about violence, but still with the incorporation of guns within this broad violent scope, if reelected, will this President push — actively push for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban?

 

MR. CARNEY: I’ve stated the President’s position on that; it has not changed. What I can tell you is the President will continue to push for common-sense measures that make it harder for those who should not have guns under existing law from getting them while protecting the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.

 

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Portland, OR, 7/24/12

 

Q Jen, Romney yesterday touched a little bit on gun control, returning to that topic. Does the President have any sort of plans in the next several weeks to sort of address that issue kind of in a one big, sweeping thing?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’ll speak from the campaign side and Jay may be able to speak to the policy here. You heard the President say on Sunday that he hoped that the events in Colorado allows us to reflect on — over the coming weeks, reflect on what this means and what we can all do as a country. He has talked to — this will stick with him for a period of — a long period of time, through to November, and he talks every day about the families and the people he met there.

I’ll let Jay speak to the policy.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’ll make a couple of points. One, as you’ve heard the President say and you saw in the op-ed that he wrote in the wake of the Tucson shootings, that he believes that we need to take, and we can take, common-sense measures that ensure that individuals who should not have weapons under existing law do not get them. And we can take those measures without in any way compromising our Second Amendment rights.

I would note that the President has long been a supporter of the assault weapons ban, renewing that, and he continues to support that position. Obviously, congressional opposition has been an issue on that. But he does support renewal of the assault weapons ban, a position he’s long held.

Q Does he have any plan to push it? I mean, he made it in —

MR. CARNEY: I don’t want to —

Q — so he had time to try to advance the plan.

MR. CARNEY: Well, there have been — as you know, I think, Roger, measures taken and progress has been achieved on some of the issues that he raised in the wake of Tucson. I can refer you to the Department of Justice or even Matt Lehrich in the Press Office in the White House can provide detailed information on the progress made in terms of expanding the quality and quantity of information in background checks, as well as other measures that have been taken — A. B, and I think it’s certainly possible the President could address these issues in the future. But I don’t have any scheduling updates for you.

Q But since he wrote that op-ed, has there been some — I have looked into it. I talked to the Justice Department, so I know what they’ve done. And there have been some modest improvements in terms of better — making the existing laws work a little bit better. But in that op-ed, he spoke much more broadly about trying to find common ground on this issue. Can you point to anything that he’s done since writing that op-ed that has advanced that?

MR. CARNEY: Well, look, I think the work that the Department of Justice has done on this issue that has resulted in the progress that you noted demonstrates what the President has done on this issue, and reflects the approach that he believes we have to take, which is to seek methods and means that ensure that those who should not have weapons under existing law obtain them, but that protect our Second Amendment rights. And that’s the balance that he seeks.

And his position on broader issues of this nature he has articulated in the past. And I’ve noted that he has long been a proponent of renewing the assault weapons ban.

 

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en Route Aurora, CO, 7/22/12

 

Q Does the gun lobby just really preclude any sort of policy response in terms of access to firearms?

 

MR. CARNEY: I would say that the President’s views on this are as he has stated and as he spelled out in the op/ed that was published in an Arizona newspaper, which is that he believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons. And there are a number of steps that have been taken and a number of others that can be taken to accomplish that goal.

 

I don’t have any — the Department of Justice can provide more details in terms of some of the steps that we’ve taken involving making higher quantity and quality of information available in background checks, and other measures they’ve taken which I know they can provide to you, working with law enforcement agencies. But the President’s view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that’s his focus right now.

 

Q In terms of like assault weapons or something like that, there’s no renewed push for a renewed assault weapons ban?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, as you know, there has been opposition to that since it expired within Congress, and I think — I wouldn’t argue with your assessment about that. So the President is focused on doing the things that we can do that protect Second Amendment rights, which he thinks is important, but also to make it harder for individuals who should not, under existing law, have weapons to obtain them.

 

Q Does the President believe that this issue of gun control should now have sort of a larger role in the campaign? It hasn’t really been talked about much before this.

 

MS. PSAKI: I think this stage where this is so fresh and new for so many people, including the people in Colorado, who are still mourning the loss of their loved ones, will be for a long time, many people are still recovering, we’re still learning what exactly happened here and more details — that’s where our focus is right now. And so it’s really too early to say how this will play. And again, we’re just taking it day by day. That’s what our focus is today.

 

July 20, 2012: Movie Theater Shooting, Aurora, Colorado

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 1/5/2012

 

Q We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of the Gabby Giffords shooting. And she’s of course going to do things this weekend and mark it in a certain way. And when the President spoke and gave that really moving — by a lot of accounts — speech, he talked about taking steps on gun safety and gun control in the months ahead. Does he have plans of actually following through on that a year later?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think we — did we publish that? I think we have put forward some positions on this, and I don’t have anything new for you on it. And I don’t have anything for you on the anniversary itself. It obviously was a — I mean, it’s a solemn occasion given that — I mean, it’s a remarkable recovery that Congresswoman Giffords has made, but we can never forget the lives lost on that day.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 7/12/2011

Q One quick one on another topic. We understand an executive order is coming related to a gun-related issue. We’ve already heard from some groups, lawmakers expressing concern that this could be trampling on Second Amendment rights. Do you have a response to that?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, first of all, I would refer all — you’re talking about the long gun issue on the Southwest border?

 

Q My understanding was changes to the database used for background checks.

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have anything. I don’t even — I’m not even aware of that. There is obviously an issue that’s about — which is this is a law enforcement issue about illegal gun trafficking to the Mexicans on the border states is the long gun one, which I refer you to the Justice Department for. But I don’t even — I don’t have anything for you on that.

 

Q Jay, can I follow up on that just very quickly?

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes. I’ll get to yours.

 

Q Does the President believe that a new regulation is going to have a real impact on stopping the illegal flow of arms to Mexico?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, as the Deputy Attorney General said yesterday, this targeted measure will improve the ability of ATF to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons-trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations. So, yes, we believe it will improve the ATF’s ability to do that. 

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 7/7/2011

 

  Q And then totally unrelated to the debt talks, tomorrow is the sixth [sic] anniversary of the Tucson shootings and gun control groups are upset that there’s no action to prevent such an event from happening in the future. Why not?

 

MR. CARNEY: As you know, the President directed the Attorney General to form working groups with key stakeholders to identify common-sense measures that would improve Americans’ safety and security while fully respecting Second Amendment rights. That process is well underway at the Department of Justice with stakeholders on all sides working through these complex issues. And we expect to have some more specific announcements in the near future.

 

Q Any definition of near future?

 

MR. CARNEY: Near and not far into the future.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 6/16/2011

 

Sam Stein: Q Before you refer me to the Department of Justice — (laughter) — Senator Lautenberg sent a letter to the White House yesterday expressing disapproval with the lack of action on gun policy from this administration and calling for more presidential leadership, not Department of Justice leadership. So I’m wondering what the reaction is from the White House. And how do you push back against the notion that nothing has been done on guns when the records show that nothing has been done on guns?

MR. CARNEY: Can I refer you to the Justice Department? (Laughter.)

Q No, you cannot.

MR. CARNEY: I’m not aware of the letter. So I don’t have a reaction to it, Sam. So I think you know the President did have an op-ed about —

Q Well, that was many months ago.

MR. CARNEY: — gun policy in the wake of the terrible shooting in Arizona. I don’t have an update for you on the actions that we’ve taken.

Q Is the pen mightier than the gun?

Q Can I email you the letter and get a reaction later, perhaps?

MR. CARNEY: You are welcome to do that.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 6/6/2011

 

Sam Stein: Q Last week an al Qaeda spokesperson released a video statement saying something to the extent of a good way to get access to firearms is through gun show loopholes in America. And I’m wondering how serious the White House is taking this statement, and also if they’ve directed the Justice Department to look into the matter. And how do gun control policies stand — I’m sorry, gun control policy talks stand with the administration? I know there was a task force that convened at the Justice Department a little while ago, but we haven’t heard an update since then.

 

MR. CARNEY: I honestly am not aware of the statement that you mentioned, Sam. And I would encourage you to go to the Justice Department on it. We’re very mindful of any threats emanating from al Qaeda and take them seriously, so I’m sure that the appropriate folks are aware of it and acting on it. But I’ll have to send you to Justice for that.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 3/14/2011

Chip Reid: 

Q A quick one on the gun laws. President Obama wrote an op-ed over the weekend and he said, “None of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television.” So the question is what is the administration prepared to do actively, to actively support legislation-wise? For instance, Representative McCarthy’s bill to ban high-round magazines — is that something that the President or administration officials will come out in support for?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, what I’ve said in the past still holds, which we will review proposed legislation as it comes up. I don’t have any announcements for what we would support. But I would also say that the Department of Justice has reached out to stakeholders on all sides of this issue and they’re going to be holding a series of discussions as a first step, and that some of those meetings are happening this week.

 

So we are — the President made his views known in the op-ed that you referred to. And the Department of Justice is continuing this process by meeting with stakeholders on all sides of the issue to look at ways that we can find common ground to take some common-sense measures that respect Americans’ Second Amendment rights, but also deal in a common-sense way with Americans’ safety and security.

 

Q So the administration wouldn’t put forth legislation on its own or spearhead a plan?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t want to speculate about what we may or may not do legislatively, except to say that we are engaged in this process. …

April Ryan: Q Going back to the op-ed of President Obama on gun control — the President talked about the mental competency of the gunman in Arizona, how he could not get into the U.S. military, how he could not get into a college, but yet he still purchased a gun. Is that President looking at any — what kind of ways does the President want there to be issues of judging mental competency in purchasing a gun? Or is that something that he’s looking for in anything — any gun control measures that come along?

 

MR. CARNEY: That level of specificity, I don’t have, April. But I think that his point that he’s making is that we can honor our Second Amendment rights while still ensuring that, as you noted, that someone with a criminal record shouldn’t be able to check out a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to buy a gun so easily. I mean, there is room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety, respect the Second Amendment, and that we should be able to find some common ground on some of those measures. I don’t want to detail what those measures are or what he has in mind, specifically. The conversations are beginning along those lines at the Department of Justice.

 

Q Do conversations include gun shows, purchases at gun shows?

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I don’t have — I don’t want to narrowly define specific measures that may or may not be proposed. We’re looking at possible legislation and we’re having conversations with stakeholders on all sides of the issue.

 

March 13, 2011: Op-ed by President Obama in the Arizona Daily Star: We must seek agreement on gun reforms

Press Gaggle by Robert Gibbs en route Green Bay, Wisconsin Jan. 26, 2011

Q Largely absent from last night’s speech was any mention of specifically gun control issues. When will the President start talking about this? You’ve said that he’s looking at proposals on the Hill. But can you update us on that?

 

MR. GIBBS: Let me say two things. I think, one, look, I don’t doubt that there are a host of issues that didn’t receive billing in the State of the Union that will still encompass a decent amount of time inside the administration in 2011. So first and foremost, simply because something didn’t get a half page in the State of the Union, or a paragraph or such, I think doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not something that people will work on.

 

That having been said, I wouldn’t rule out that at some point the President talks about the issues surrounding gun violence. I don’t have a timetable or obviously what he would say, but I wouldn’t rule that out in the future.

 

Q Then why — isn’t that the best opportunity he’s got all year long, and it came on the heels of — when memories of Arizona are fresh?

 

MR. GIBBS: Look, obviously what happened in Arizona was a tragedy. But, Jackie, it’s happened to school kids in Chicago. It happens in many places all over the country. So, again, what the President wanted to do last night was outline the global economic challenges that we face in a way that he hasn’t been able to do in a while.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 1/24/2011

Dan Lothian: Q One other question — someone brought something up about this last week in the briefing — about gun control. Do we expect to hear the President talk anything more about that in light of what we’ve been seeing — what happened out West?

 

MR. GIBBS: From a policy perspective, I’ll simply tell you that, as I said last week, I don’t doubt that as a result of the impact of the issues of what happened in Tuscon, that there will be a number of proposals that this White House and the Congress will evaluate, and we’ll wait until tomorrow to see what’s in the State of the Union…

April Ryan: Q And also on the issue — going back to the issue that we raised last week on gun control. Cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. have gun violence and gangs. And President Obama, being such a loyal native of Chicago and knowing what has happened there, why has he not since being President pushed anything on issues of gun control? Is it because it’s a hot potato issue for Democrats?

 

MR. GIBBS: No, look, again, I think that — first, you’re talking about a series of, in some cases, state, in some cases, local issues in terms of different laws that govern the purchasing of or the possession of guns in those jurisdictions.

 

Look, there’s no doubt that the gang violence that’s resulted in the murders of kids in Chicago and Washington and throughout the country are issues that are important to this administration and important to this President, particularly as you said, given his hometown of Chicago. There have been efforts at DOJ and other places to see what measures can be taken to help those localities deal with many of these problems, understanding that, April, I think the President will be the first one to tell you that laws alone by any jurisdiction or any government are not going to — are not ever going to fully stop what happens to young people who — I think he’s said in different speeches — have a hole in their heart that lead them to do the types of things that result in killing kids their own age.

 

I think those are — these are issues that have to be met with responses not simply at a state, local or federal level, but at a level in — at kitchen tables and in churches all over the country.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 1/20/2011

 

 April Ryan: Q Robert, on issues of gun control, former Vice President Dick Cheney said that he could see some sort of more restrictions on semi-automatic weapons, semi-automatic handguns. Is this administration going to navigate through the steely, tough waters of gun control in the wake of what happened in Arizona?

 

MR. GIBBS: April, I don’t have a lot to add to what I’ve said I think on a couple of occasions in here on that, and that is I have no doubt that there will be proposals offered as a result of different circumstances that would have happened in Tucson. And the administration will evaluate those proposals.

 

Q Do you agree with what the former Vice President had to say on semi-automatic —

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, I think we’re looking through some of those proposals…. 

David Corn: Q Let me follow up on April’s question for a second. Representative McCarthy and Senator Lautenberg have posed bills that would ban high-magazine — high ammo in guns. Have there been any discussions between those offices and the White House whether that it is a proposal worth pursuing in this Congress?

 

MR. GIBBS: I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know what specific conversations have been had.

 

Q Given the President’s previous positions on banning assault weapons in favor of some gun control measures, is this something that you think he’d likely support?

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, I think we’re looking through different proposals — the proposals that you mentioned and others — and we’ll evaluate them based on those events.

 

Q And is there any possibility you’re going to be proactive and propose something of your own?

 

MR. GIBBS: I have not heard anything particular in here.  

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 1/18/2011

 

Tommy Christopher: I noticed in the President’s op-ed he talks about baby formula regulations and saccharin, but there’s nothing about guns in there — specifically the ban on high-capacity magazines. Does the President support that?

 

MR. GIBBS: I don’t think that’s addressed in a rules and regulatory system. As I said last week, I’m sure there will be many proposals that will be made out of the events of last week, and we will certainly examine and look at what those proposals are, but I don’t have anything additional on that.

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 1/13/2011

 

Mike:   Where the rubber might meet the road in terms — we’re talking rather philosophically, but in terms of a concrete policy issue, gun control seems to be — you can’t touch it, especially if you’re a Democrat or a Democratic leader in this town. The assault weapons ban is expired. Apparently, the sort of extended clip that this individual was able to obtain he would not have been able to obtain had it still been in force. Where is the administration on gun control generally, the extension of the assault weapons ban in particular? How hard will you push, considering it’s now considered to be a political loser by Democrats?

 

MR. GIBBS: Mike, let me say this, that obviously we are and have been focused on the important healing process. We will have an opportunity to evaluate ideas and proposals that may be brought forth as a result of circumstances and the facts around this case. The President, again, since I have been with him in 2004, has supported the assault weapons ban, and we continue to do so. And I think we all strive, regardless of party, to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to reduce violence. We’ll have an opportunity to evaluate some of the other proposals…

Mara.

 

Q Robert, you said that he has always been for the assault weapons ban. One of the other gun control issues that’s come out of this is seeing if there’s something that could be done to prevent mentally ill people, like the shooter, from purchasing handguns. I’m wondering if the President thinks it’s possible. And has he directed anyone to look into this?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, Mara, I would leave the legislative proposals — obviously, as I said earlier, we’ll have an opportunity — I don’t know if that evaluation on specific proposals that have been introduced thus far has been done. But we will certainly look at —

 

Q Well, sure. But last night he talked about the importance of like examining our assumptions about issues. I mean, he seemed to almost invite a discussion about this.

 

MR. GIBBS: Look, I think what the President said was it is important and it is required of us to look at all the facts and the circumstances that surround these events. And I know that’s what law enforcement and investigators are doing on the ground. And I think we all look forward to learning more about what happened and try to explain the why.

 

Q But he specifically said in order to prevent this from happening again.

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, Mara, I don’t have a lot more than the fact that this is — evaluation of the facts and how we got to a tragedy like this I think requires us to look at everything.  

 

 

January 8, 2011: Mass Shooting At Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Rally, Tucson, Arizona

 

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 5/5/10

 

Jake Tapper: 

Q And will the administration seek legislation that would allow the government to block firearm sales to people that are on the terror watch list?**

 

MR. GIBBS: I saw Mayor Bloomberg testify to that, and I’ve asked for guidance if we’ve taken a position on that bill or not.

 

Q Can you get back to us on that, Robert?

 

MR. GIBBS: Yes.

Addendum: **While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies already receive notification when a person on a terror watch-list seeks to buy a gun and are committed to vigorously investigating such cases, many people are legitimately concerned that existing law still allows some people on watch-lists to buy guns. The Justice Department is reviewing its options for addressing this issue and for working with Congress to resolve it.

 

Briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 11/23/09

Q And on a third matter, there’s a conservative gun owners group saying that a provision of the Senate passed — or the Senate — the health care plan being debated in the Senate would require the government to accumulate information about gun-related injuries, that they are then concerned might be used to impact gun laws. How would you address that?

 

MR. GIBBS: I’m unfamiliar with that — with any of that provision. If you can — we can certainly take a look at that and maybe get a better answer.

November 5, 2009: Mass Shooting At Fort Hood, Texas

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