Obama takes next step towards ‘meaningful action’

President Obama with his cabinet
President Obama with his cabinet
White House photo

On Friday, reflecting on the day’s massacre in Newtown, Conn., President Obama said Americans would have to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” A day later, in his weekly address, the president used identical language. By Sunday night, Obama spoke in more depth, vowing to “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens – from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators – in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

It’s far from clear what we should expect in terms of the policy manifestation of those intentions, but it appears the president, at a minimum, is serious about moving forward.

President Obama on Monday began the first serious push of his administration to attempt to reduce gun violence, directing Cabinet members to formulate a set of proposals that could include reinstating a ban on assault rifles.

The effort will be led by Vice President Biden…. Obama, who has appeared shaken by the Sandy Hook shootings, met Monday with Biden, who advocated for stricter gun-control measures during his years in the Senate. The president also spoke Monday with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “to begin looking at ways the country can respond to the tragedy in Newtown,” according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Others involved in the new effort include White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler; Biden’s chief counsel, Cynthia C. Hogan; and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who traveled with Obama to Connecticut on Sunday to address a memorial service for the Sandy Hook victims.

It’s obviously too soon to say what will come of the initiative, but there were some concerns over the weekend that the White House would soon shift its attention away from the violence at Sandy Hook Elementary, and when pressed, officials would say they awaited congressional efforts.

As of yesterday, it appears that’s not going to happen, and the wheels, however slow, are in motion.


Obama takes next step towards 'meaningful action'