It’s now been five days since the heartbreaking tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut; three days since we gathered as a nation to pray for the victims, and today a few more of the 20 small children and six educators who were taken from us will be laid to rest. We may never know all the reasons why this tragedy happened. We do know that every day since, more Americans have died of gun violence. We know such violence has terrible consequences for our society. And if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try.
OBAMA: Over these past five days, the discussion has re-emerged as to what we might do not only to deter mass shootings in the future, but to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day. And it’s encouraging that people of all different backgrounds and beliefs and political persuasions have been willing to challenge some old assumptions and change some long-standing positions.
That conversation has to continue, but this time the words need to lead to action. We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held (ph) passions and political divides. And as I said on Sunday night, there’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.
We’re going to need on making access to mental health at least as easy as access to a gun. We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that, all too often, glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts.
But the fact that this problem is complex, can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence, doesn’t mean that we can’t steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence. That’s why I asked the vice president to lead an effort to include members of my Cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than January, proposals that I then intend to push without delay.
OBAMA: This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside.
This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now.
I asked Joe to lead this effort in part because he wrote the 1994 crime bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in this country. That plan -- that bill also included the assault weapons ban that was publicly supported at the time by former presidents, including Ronald Reagan.
The good news is there’s already a growing consensus for us to build from. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.