Carney: Today not the day to discuss gun control

December 14, 2012

Hours after the elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn., White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that it was not the time to discuss gun control legislation.

“We're still waiting for more information about the incident in Connecticut,” Carney replied when asked if the massacre raised questions about gun policy. "I’m sure [there] will be rather a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don’t think today is that day."

Pressed on when that discussion would happen, the spokesman said it would -- but not as we were still figuring out how the tragic massacre occurred. 

"I think that day will come, but today's not that day, especially as we are awaiting more information about the situation," he said.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said earlier this week that it was time to discuss stricter gun control laws, a shift from his comments following July's tragic shooting in the state. 

“I wanted to have at least a couple of months off after the shooting in Aurora to let people process and grieve and get a little space, but it is, I think, now is the time is right,” he told the Associated Press. 

In the wake of that shooting, Obama called on all Americans to "reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country." Reporters asked Carney Friday whether that reflection had occurred.

"I really encourage all of us to give a moment here to focus on what is an unfolding tragedy in Connecticut, and not to engage in Washington policy battles of long running today," the spokesman replied.

Gun control advocates have been disappointed by President Obama, who has largely avoided the issue for the past four years. 

"If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is," Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. " I am challenging President Obama, the Congress, and the American public to act on our outrage and, finally, do something about this."

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Philip Rucker | December 14, 2012