President Obama is winning praise for his poignant speech Sunday night in Connecticut in response to the Sandy Hook shootings.
But while he’s talked tough — and occasionally poignantly — during his first term about removing what he described as “weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters” from the streets, he has accomplished little. Then again, neither have other federal legislators – for reasons we spelled out here.
ABC News’ Jake Tapper pressed White House press secretary Jay Carney to name one piece of legislation with Obama’s name on it that would curb such weapons. Carney replied with a lot of “complex problems come with complex solutions” smoke and mirrors.
Key line comes from Tapper at the end of their interaction: “So the answer is no.”
Here’s the transcript:
TAPPER: OK, and lastly, Jay, after the Tucson shooting that left Congresswoman Gabby Giffords seriously wounded and six others dead, including a little girl, the president wrote an op-ed in 2011 in the Arizona Star, and he talked about the gun restrictions he favored.
He said that the laws on the books should be enforced more when it came to the background check. It relies on data supplied by states, but the data is often incomplete and inadequate; we must do better. Second, we should reward the states that provide the best data. And third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. So that was about — that was almost two years ago. So what’s the progress –
CARNEY: Well, the fact is — I mean, I would refer you to the Justice Department for the specifics. But we have taken steps, specifically on the issue of background checks, to make the system more thorough and complete because this is a key component of an effort to enforce existing laws that, when properly enforced, do not allow weapons to fall into the hands of those who should not have them under existing law. So that’s an important component. We have taken steps, and I’m sure that will be part of the broader discussion moving forward. But it is an issue that we have taken steps on because the background check system — making it more complete and thorough is an important component.
TAPPER: And lastly, Jay, in the October presidential debate, the president said — one of the debates – “weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets.” Can you name one thing the president has done in the last four years to help remove weapons of war from our streets?
CARNEY: You know, there’s no question, Jake, that the scourge of gun violence is a problem that has not sufficiently been addressed, because, as we saw in Newtown, we continue to have horrific tragedies that result in innocent victims. The president supports the assault weapons ban and the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. But we have to –
TAPPER: I don’t mean “supports.” I mean, like, have you taken one measure, one act — one — to remove the weapons of war that he talks about?
CARNEY: Again, he supports legislation that is designed to ban some weapons, but as you know, this is a complex –
TAPPER: Anyone can support something.
CARNEY: — this is a complex issue, and — that requires complex solutions. And, you know, he looks forward to engaging the American people in an effort to do more. As he made clear last night, we need to change, we have not done enough — we as a nation. And, you know, he will in coming weeks use the power of his office to try to help make that change.
TAPPER: OK, so the answer is “no.”