WASHINGTON — If voters want significant gun legislation to get passed in the wake of the nation’s latest mass shooting, a Monday massacre at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 people dead, they should focus their attention on Congress, President Barack Obama said Tuesday.
In an interview with Telemundo, the president said that he had brought the gun debate about as far as he personally could after the shooting last December in Newtown, Conn. But the legislative branch is a co-equal. And if legislative items like expanded background checks on gun purchases are to pass, he said, Congress will have to take the next step.
From the transcript released by Telemundo:
Ultimately this is something that Congress is gonna have to act on. I have now in the wake of Newtown initiated a whole range of executive actions. We’ve put in place every executive action that I proposed right after Newtown happened.
So I’ve taken steps that are within my control. The next phase now is for Congress to go ahead and move. And, you know, this is an example of– where what we’ve seen again and again on immigration reform, on gun control, on a commonsense budget.
You have a majority of the American people and even a large percentage of Republicans who are ready to move the country forward, and yet we keep on getting blocked. And it’s a challenge that I’m speaking out on, but ultimately we’re also gonna [need] pressure from the public to see if we can change how they do business up there.
An administration official did not return a request for comment regarding whether the president plans to push members of Congress to act on gun control.
Discussions of revamping the nation’s gun laws occur after virtually every incident of mass violence. And — as evidenced by the fact that the president is still fielding questions on the matter — attempts to do so have largely failed. So you don’t have to be a cynic to think the Navy Yard shooting won’t change a thing.
Certainly, the White House knows this, which is why it isn’t exactly leaning in to the gun control debate at this juncture. Very few Democrats are. For starters, the party made a healthy push after Newtown and still saw a background check bill fail to garner the necessary 60 votes in the Senate. Secondarily, only a day has gone by since the shooting took place, so lawmakers may be hesitant to get too political too soon.
UPDATE: 8:17 p.m. — A White House official offered the following statement Tuesday night, teasing the notion that the president could take further executive action or pressure Congress on gun policy reform:
I would not rule out the idea that something more could happen on guns.