President Obama was asked by the clip-wielding host of NBC’s Meet the Press this morning if he has “the stomach for the political fight for new gun control laws” after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.
“I think anybody who was up in Newtown, who talked to the parents, who talked to the families, understands that something fundamental in America has to change. And all of us have to do some soul-searching, including me as president; that we allow a situation in which 20 precious, small children are getting gunned down in a classroom,” Obama said, adding that he has “historically supported and will continue to support” an assault-weapons ban, ban on high-capacity magazines, and background checks.
“But can you get it done?” host David Gregory pressed.
“I’d like to get it done in the first year,” Obama responded. “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.”
Vaguely, Obama said he’d meet with stakeholders on gun control: “I will meet with Republicans, I will meet with Democrats. I will talk to anybody.”
“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 gunned down our kids. And yes, it’s going to be hard,” he said.
When asked about the National Rifle Association recommendation to post armed guards in schools — the interview in which Gregory whipped out a high-capacity magazine for NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre last week — Obama said he would not “prejudge.”
“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,” said the president, who, like Gregory, sends his kids to the private Sidwell Friends School that boasts several armed guards to protect its well-heeled students.
“Look — here’s the bottom line — we’re not going to get this done unless the American people decide it’s important. So this is not going to be simply a matter of me spending political capital. One of the things that you learn, having now been in this office for four years, is you know, the old adage of Abraham Lincoln’s that with public opinion there’s nothing you can’t do and without public opinion, there’s very little you can get done in this town,” Obama continued. “So I’m going to be putting forward a package. And I’m going to be putting my full weight behind it.”
“Will there be resistance? Absolutely there will be resistance. The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here.”