TRANSCRIPT: Obama Press Conference On Gun Violence
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, this is not going to be a commission. Joe is going to gather up some key Cabinet members who have an interest in this issue.  We're going to reach out to a bunch of stakeholders.  We're going to be reaching out to members of Congress who have an interest in this issue.  It's not as if we have to start from scratch.  There are a whole bunch of proposals that have been thought about, debated, but hopefully also some new ideas in terms of how we deal with this issue.

Their task is going to be to sift through every good idea that's out there, and even take a look at some bad ideas before disposing of them, and come up with a concrete set of recommendations in about a month.  And I would hope that our memories aren't so short that what we saw in Newtown isn't lingering with us, that we don't remain passionate about it only a month later. 

And as soon as we get those recommendations, I will be putting forward very specific proposals.  I will be talking about them in my State of The Union and we will be working with interested members of Congress to try to get some of them done. 

And the idea that we would say this is terrible, this is a tragedy, never again, and we don’t have the sustained attention span to be able to get this done over the next several months doesn’t make sense.  I have more confidence in the American people than that.  I have more confidence in the parents, the mothers and fathers that I’ve been meeting over the last several days all across the country from all political persuasions, including a lot of gun owners, who say, you know what, this time we’ve got to do things differently.

Q    What about the NRA?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the NRA is an organization that has members who are mothers and fathers.  And I would expect that they’ve been impacted by this as well.  And hopefully they’ll do some self-reflection. 

And here’s what we know -- that any single gun law can’t solve all these problems.  We’re going to have to look at mental health issues.  We’re going to have to look at schools.  There are going to be a whole range of things that Joe’s group looks at.  We know that issues of gun safety will be an element of it. And what we’ve seen over the last 20 years, 15 years, is the sense that anything related to guns is somehow an encroachment on the Second Amendment.  What we’re looking for here is a thoughtful approach that says we can preserve our Second Amendment, we can make sure that responsible gun owners are able to carry out their activities, but that we’re going to actually be serious about the safety side of this; that we’re going to be serious about making sure that something like Newtown or Aurora doesn’t happen again.

And there is a big chunk of space between what the Second Amendment means and having no rules at all.  And that space is what Joe is going to be working on to try to identify where we can find some common ground.

So I’ve got -- I’m going to take one last question.

Go ahead, Jake.

Q    It seems to a lot of observers that you made the political calculation in 2008 in your first term and in 2012 not to talk about gun violence.  You had your position on renewing the ban on semiautomatic rifles that then-Senator Biden put into place, but you didn’t do much about it.  This is not the first issue -- the first incident of horrific gun violence of your four years.  Where have you been?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, here’s where I’ve been, Jake.  I’ve been President of the United States dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars.  I don’t think I’ve been on vacation. 

And so I think all of us have to do some reflection on how we prioritize what we do here in Washington.  And as I said on Sunday, this should be a wake-up call for all of us to say that if we are not getting right the need to keep our children safe, then nothing else matters.  And it’s my commitment to make sure that we do everything we can to keep our children safe. 

A lot of things go in -- are involved in that, Jake.  So making sure they’ve got decent health care and making sure they’ve got a good education, making sure that their parents have jobs -- those are all relevant as well.  Those aren’t just sort of side issues.  But there’s no doubt that this has to be a central issue.  And that’s exactly why I’m confident that Joe is going to take this so seriously over the next couple months.

All right.  Thank you, everybody.