The White House signaled Thursday that it is not likely seek new gun control legislation in the aftermath of the deadly shooting in Colorado last week.
A number of prominent Democrats have called for tighter gun laws in the wake of the massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, last week that left 12 dead and 58 injured after a gunman opened fire during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
President Barack Obama, speaking at the National Urban League convention in New Orleans Wednesday evening, raised the hopes of some gun control advocates with his remarks urging the nation to address the violence in our communities.
Obama said he prayed for the victims and survivors of the tragedy in Colorado, but he noted that such high profile events are hardly the sole problems with violence in the country.
"For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orleans," Obama said, referring to two other high profile mass shootings. "Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest towns."
He added, "It claims the lives of Americans of different ages and different races, and it's tied together by the fact that these young people had dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short."
In the wake of high-profile tragedies there are almost always immediate outcries for legislative actions, Obama said, though he noted that such actions often fail or are abandoned as the attention of the nation shifts.
"I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms," he said. "And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation -- that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage."
The president added, "I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals."
Many gun control advocates had taken Obama's remarks as a sign that the President would push for a reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that while Obama continues to support a reinstatement of that ban, the president also recognizes that there is a legislative deadlock in Congress that would make doing so difficult.
"Given the stalemate in Congress, our focus is on the steps that we can take to make sure criminals and others should not have those guns, to make sure they cannot attain them," Carney said. "There are things that we can do, short of legislation [on] gun laws, as the President said, to reduce violence in our society."
He added, "He will continue to press the Department of Justice to try to enhance the enforcement of existing laws and try to further develop our background check system so that it prevents criminals and those who should not have weapons from getting them under existing law."
Carney also stressed that the administration has taken a number of other initiatives aimed at addressing the broader problems of violence in America, from supporting local law enforcement efforts to working on educational programs to steer children away from gangs.
"We do need to take a broader look at what we can do to reduce violence," Carney said. "It required a multifaceted approach that looks at this problem from a variety of angles and that's not just legislative and it's not just about gun laws."
Carney repeatedly said that any approaches taken by the president would protect the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.
"That is very important to him and he believes that we can take measures that improve public safety by preventing weapons from getting into the hands of [those] who should not have them under existing law," Carney said of Obama.
He added, "But there are broader aspects of this problem. … That's why we need to not look at it through one single prism."
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org