President Obama hopes to make gun control the top issue of his final year in office, saying Americans aren’t more violent than other people but they “have more deadly weapons to act out their rage.”
In an interview published Tuesday in GQ magazine, Mr. Obama said easy access to guns is “the only variable” between the U.S. and other developed countries.
“The main thing that I’ve been trying to communicate over the last several of these horrific episodes is that, contrary to popular belief, Americans are not more violent than people in other developed countries,” Mr. Obama said. “But they have more deadly weapons to act out their rage.”
Asked by interviewer Bill Simmons of HBO if gun control will be the “dominant” issue on his agenda next year, Mr. Obama replied, “I hope so.”
“We have this weird habit in this culture of mourning and, you know, 48, 72 hours of wall-to-wall coverage, and then … suddenly we move on,” Mr. Obama said. “And I will do everything I can to make sure that there’s a sustained attention paid to this thing.”
The president has begun to speak out about gun regulations more forcefully in recent months, following mass shootings at a church in South Carolina and a community college in Oregon. He said in the magazine article that the aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut in December 2012 was “the worst few days of my presidency.”
Following that shooting, the administration pushed Congress to enact tighter background checks on gun purchases, but the effort failed in the Senate.
“We knew it was a stretch, just because of the politics of Congress and the NRA. But we had to try,” Mr. Obama said. “In the absence of a movement politically in which people say, ‘Enough is enough,’ we’re going to continue to see, unfortunately, these tragedies take place.”
The interview was conducted in the White House, apparently sometime in October. Mr. Obama said in his seventh year in office, he feels “looser” and more confident.
“There’s no doubt that the longer I’m in this job, the more confident I am about the decisions I’m making and more knowledgeable about the responses I can expect,” he said. “And as a consequence, you end up being looser. There’s not much I have not seen at this point, and I know what to expect, and I can anticipate more than I did before.”
He said when he leaves office, he doesn’t want an appointment to the Supreme Court, but would be interested in becoming part owner of an NBA team or the league commissioner.
“Supreme Court justices, obviously, are hugely important,” Mr. Obama said. “I don’t have the temperament to sit in relative solitude and just opine and write from the bench. I want to be in the action a little bit more.”
The president revealed he has a virtual driving range in the White House to practice his golf swing, and said he hasn’t smoked a cigarette in five years.
“I made a promise that once health care passed, I would never have a cigarette again. And I have not,” he said.