President Barack Obama on Wednesday appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head a commission that will make recommendations on new gun control laws by January.
During a news conference to announce the commission, the president promised to push forward the group’s recommendations without delay.
President Obama started by talking about Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Conn., his impetus for forming the commission. But he went on to list several other recent shootings, including an incident in Nevada last week during which a man killed his ex-girlfriend before committing suicide in the lobby of a hotel on the Las Vegas strip.
“Everyday gun violence takes the lives of 10,000 people every year,” he said. “ We can no longer accept that as routine.”
Although gun control opponents, including the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), have remained mostly silent following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Obama acknowledged the push for new regulations would not be easy. He urged lawmakers and their constituents to come together to find a compromise in a common sense solution.
The president asked Vice President Biden to explore issues including general school safety and medical treatment for people with mental health problems. But he also urged Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. And he called for stricter background checks for people purchasing weapons with high capacity clips.
“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said. “The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence.”
When asked how he would handle opposition from groups like the NRA, Obama said he would no longer be bound by the decades old mantra that any regulations related to guns encroached on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. He said lawmakers should look to the space between the Second Amendment and having no regulations at all to find a thoughtful approach to addressing serious safety concerns. He called on mothers and fathers, including NRA members and other gun owners, to participate in a national discussion.
“This time we’ve got to do things differently,” he said.