President Obama, saying that “words need to lead to action,” announced a new initiative Dec. 19 that will identify concrete proposals addressing gun violence that he will send to Congress in January for immediate consideration.
The president announced the initiative at the White House five days after the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that resulted in the deaths of 20 first graders and six educators. He said that discussions following the shooting have focused “not only on what might be done to deter mass shootings in the future but also to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day.” He said it is encouraging that people of all different backgrounds and beliefs and political persuasions have been willing to challenge some old assumptions and change longstanding positions on the issue.
Vice President Joe Biden will lead the initiative, which will involve members of the Cabinet and outside organizations. The president noted that he asked the vice president to lead the effort in part because Biden, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was instrumental in writing the crime bill enacted in 1994 that helped bring down crime and included an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
The ABA has long supported rational, common sense solutions at every level of government to address gun violence, including support for legislation and administrative action to more strictly regulate the sale and transfer of firearms. The association also supports a comprehensive approach to gun violence at schools and urges governments to assure adequate and appropriate mental health services for at-risk youth.