At a White House press conference today, President Barack Obama announced a group of high-level federal officials, headed by Vice President Joe Biden, will look at ways to reduce gun violence.
The White House press corps mainly asked about negotiations on the "fiscal cliff", but in for the last question, Jake Tapper managed to rile Obama by bringing the focus back to a possible assault weapon ban, and what the president has -- or hasn't -- done about it.
From the official White House transcript:
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.