As the FBI announced a shift in focus in its San Bernardino attack investigation to terrorism, President Obama met today with former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) to plot a course forward on gun control.
“The administration is in an open dialogue with outside organizations and with those who share the president’s passion for taking some common sense steps to make it harder for those with bad intentions to get their hands on guns,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters about the meeting. “And this is obviously important work that the administration has been quite focused on and the administration has worked closely with some of these outside groups to amplify the call of people across the country, so that members of Congress can be responsive to those public priorities.”
“Unfortunately, it hasn’t had the intended effect, and in fact, we saw just yesterday that Republicans stood up once again with the NRA and in the face of common sense to vote down a measure that would close the loophole in background checks,” he said of the resurrection of the Manchin-Toomey amendment and another from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to block those on the terror watch list from getting guns. Both failed in the Senate on Thursday.
“Currently, individuals can purchase firearms over the Internet and at a gun show without going through a background check. And does this make any sense if we’re actually committed to making it harder for individuals that are criminals; that are the subject of a court order, or have mental problems — documented mental problems? We should make it so easy for them to get a gun?”
Earnest stood by Obama’s summertime vow that his Homeland Security team had “picked up the pace” to prevent lone-wolf attacks on American soil.
“I think the president would say that we have and I think the statistics that the Department of Justice can share with you about the number of individuals and the number of plots that have been disrupted I think is a pretty good accounting of how focused our law enforcement and our intelligence professionals are on this,” he said.
Asked if Obama will hold off on any gun executive actions until the San Bernardino investigation concludes, Earnest replied, “I don’t have a timeline for you to share with you on in terms of any additional executive actions that the administration may take to put in place some common sense gun safety policies.”
“So I wouldn’t necessarily say that… safety policies or executive actions that could make it harder for individuals who shouldn’t have guns from getting them, that has been something that we have been working on for a long time. That’s something that we’ve been working on in advance of this latest incident.”