On Friday afternoon, when President Obama spoke from White House on the massacre in Connecticut, he noted, “we’re going to have to come together and 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.
And then last night, at an interfaith prayer vigil in Newtown, while honoring the victims and the community, Obama looked ahead to a larger debate, explaining that “if we’re honest with ourselves,” we’ll acknowledge that we are not yet “meeting our obligations” to America’s children.”
“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law – no set of laws – can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.
“But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown – and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that – then surely we have an obligation to try.
“In the coming weeks, I will 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. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
It’s too soon to say which policy measures the president has in mind, and when we might see specific proposals, but Sarah Kliff had a good piece over the weekend exploring what kind of “meaningful actions” the White House might consider, including more extensive background checks, a ban on certain types of firearms, increased waiting periods, and increased public health funding.