- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 15, 2012

President Obama on Saturday called for “meaningful” action to prevent future tragedies like Friday’s Newtown, Conn., school shooting that claimed the lives of 28, including 20 elementary-aged children — but other gun-control advocates made it clear they want more from the White House on the issue.

“We have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address (https://www.whitehouse.gov/). “As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years — an elementary school in Newtown, a shopping mall in Oregon, a house of worship in Wisconsin, a movie theater in Colorado, countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.”

But some gun-control activists, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, called for a stronger reaction from the White House.

“Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who heads the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership — not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today.”

New York City Rep. Jerrold Nadler, said the president needs to “exploit” the tragedy in Connecticut.

“These incidents, these horrible, horrible incidents … are happening more and more frequently. And they will continue to happen more and more frequently until someone with the bully pulpit, and that means the president, takes leadership and pushes Congress,” Mr. Nadler. a Democrat, said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” with Ed Schultz.

Mr. Nadler was asked whether the Newtown tragedy could be the turning point in many Democrats’ longstanding struggle to enact stronger gun laws.

“I think we will be there if the president exploits it, otherwise we’ll go on to the next” incident, Mr. Nadler said.

In Newtown on Saturday, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, told CNN the tragedy would prompt a national discussion on whether gun laws, especially those on automatic weapons, are ineffective.

“That’s a conversation we will have in this state and around the country — what greater measures in enforcement and in new kinds of oversight can achieve greater safety, particularly in our schools.”

“Today, I’m not going to discuss it out of respect to the families,” said the first-term Democrat, a former state attorney general. “But I’m going to go to Washington and I’m going to raise this issue. I think it’s time for the conversation to be renewed.”

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat, told The New York Times she plans to introduce far-reaching new gun laws: “The time to talk about it should have been after the last shooting or the shooting before that.”

A crowd of about 50 anti-gun activists held a vigil outside the White House Friday evening in part to protest remarks earlier in the day from Obama spokesman Jay Carney, who said that a time to discuss gun control would come, but that “I don’t think today is that day.”

Republicans usually post their own weekly commentary on the Internet on Saturday, but House Speaker John Boehner said there would be no address this week.

“There will be no weekly Republican address this weekend so that President Obama can speak for the entire nation at this time of mourning. I join the president — and all Americans — in sending prayers and condolences to the victims’ loved ones,” the Ohio Republican said Friday.

But other Republicans, many of whom who have long stood for Second Amendment gun rights on Capitol Hill, were already pushing back against the growing calls for new regulations.

Congressman Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, told The New York Times that the focus on the aftermath of the shooting should be on treating mental illness, not targeting gun owners.

“That’s one thing I hope doesn’t happen,” he said. “What is the more realistic discussion is how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?”

• David Eldridge can be reached at deldridge@washingtontimes.com.

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