U.S. President Barack Obama is pledging to put the full weight of the White House behind efforts to curb American gun violence.
Obama said Sunday, in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, an assault two weeks ago at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children and six adults dead was the worst day of his four-year presidency.
The president said he would rally Americans behind proposals to increase background checks on people trying to buy guns and ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Vice President Joe Biden is to head a panel to develop legislation aimed at ending mass shootings in the United States, where gun ownership rights are enshrined in the country’s Constitution.
Obama said new curbs on gun ownership will be controversial, but the United States has to decide whether it has the resolve to adopt more controls, rather than let the memory of the schoolhouse attack fade as time passes.
“The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away,” he said. “It certainly will not feel like that to me. This is something that — you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it’s not something that I want to see repeated.”
But Obama said he was skeptical of a call by the nation’s most prominent gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, to put armed guards in all of the nearly 100,000 public schools in the United States.
“I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools. And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem,” he said.
On another issue, the president said there were “severe problems in diplomatic security” that led to the Sept. 11 killing of four U.S. envoys at the country’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He said the assault is still under investigation, but declined to say who U.S. officials believe carried out the attack.