The tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo., has been treated by many politicians and commentators as a self-evident justification for more gun-control laws, including a reinstatement of the 1994 assault-weapons ban (which may or may not have applied to one of the weapons Holmes wielded). But there’s one pretty liberal politician who’s made it clear he won’t do much about it: President Obama. As Mike Allen of Politico noted this morning, in a press gaggle yesterday, Jay Carney revealed that the president has basically no plans to follow that route:
QUESTION: Does the gun lobby just really preclude any sort of policy response in terms of access to firearms?
I would say that the President’s views on this are as he has stated, . . . 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.
. . . 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.
QUESTION: In terms of like assault weapons or something like that, there’s no renewed push for a renewed assault weapons ban?
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.
It’s hard to imagine how the president could offer less of a policy response while still pretending to do something (a welcome development, of course, given how misguided the proposals have been). One might have guessed that gun control, especially given the events of this past week, would fit in the category of tough issues on which the president would bet that energizing his base and impressing some moderates was worth alienating another constituency (a calculation he seems to have made on immigration, welfare reform, gay marriage, and the HHS mandate). Apparently not.