Washington, Oct 3 (IANS) With Republican controlled Congress unwilling to act on his call to enact tough gun laws, President Barack Obama vowed to keep talking about it and explore what he could do on his own.
“I’m going to talk about this on a regular basis. And I will politicise this. Because our inaction is a political decision that we’re making,” Obama said Friday at a White House press conference a day after the massacre at a Oregon community college.
“Unless we change that political dynamic, we’re not going to be able to make a big dent in this problem,” he said asking gun-control advocates to act as “single-issue voters,” punishing and rewarding politicians at the polls on the topic.
The powerful gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association (NRA) “has had a good start. They’ve been at this a long time, they’ve perfected what they do,” Obama said.
They “know how to stir up fear; they know how to stir up their base; they know how to raise money; they know how to scare politicians,” he said of NRA that rates politicians from A to F based on their support for its cause.
Obama said he has asked his administration to look into “what kinds of authorities do we have to enforce the laws that we have in place more effectively to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
He also indirectly criticised Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush for his comments in the wake of the Oregon college shooting that “stuff happens.”
“I had this challenge as governor, ’cause we had, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do,” he said at a campaign stop in South Carolina.
Asked about Bush’s comment, Obama said: “I don’t even think I have to react to that one. I think the American people should hear that and make their own judgments based on the fact that every couple of months we have a mass shooting,”
“And they can decide if they consider that ‘stuff happening.'”
Bush clarified later to reporters that his comment was “not related to Oregon.”
Meanwhile, the influential Washington Post reported that gun control measures are unlikely to gain steam in Congress after the Oregon shooting.
The Post noted that that it has been more than two years since Capitol Hill saw its last significant gun-control vote, following the December 2012 killings of 20 children and six adults in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school.
Two senators – Republican Patrick J. Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin III both previously endorsed by the NRA- proposed legislation that would expand current federal background checks to include weapons sold at gun shows and on the Internet.
The measure fell five votes short of the 60 necessary for passage. Since then, the outlook for gun-control advocates has gotten even more grim, it said.
Five of the Senate Democrats who voted in favour of the Manchin-Toomey amendment have since been replaced by NRA-endorsed Republicans, the Post noted.
The New York Times also noted the “gun lobby has such a grip on Congress that it has successfully squelched most federal research on the problem.”
Last year the FBI, prompted by the White House, issued a report confirming that mass shootings have been rising significantly in recent years — from 6.4 a year between 2000 and 2006 to 16.4 a year between 2007 and 2013.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)