On Wednesday, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, “What is the president doing to convince members of his own party in the Senate that are against the measure [to re-ban assault weapons]?”
Carney responded that the president has been an advocate for the Second Amendment.
“Well, he’s had conversations with various lawmakers on this issue,” Carney said, “including those who have a strong record of support for Second Amendment rights, and I would note that the president has a strong record of support for Second Amendment rights.”
“The point he’s making, and I think that the point that a lot of people have been making, including lawmakers, have been making in the wake of Newtown is that we can do certain things that still protect those Second Amendment rights and that address this problem and address it in a broader way than just through gun control legislation, although that’s an important piece of it,” Carney said. “And that’s why we saw the president move quickly with the vice president’s assistance and leadership to put forward that package of proposals.”
On Jan. 16, Obama signed 23 executive orders on gun control, which include having the Justice Department review categories of individuals prohibited from possessing firearms; directing the Justice Department to issue a report designed to promote “smart” gun technologies; directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the cause of gun violence; and requiring federal law enforcement agencies to request the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace all guns seized in criminal investigations.
Before becoming president, Obama had a voting record on gun control in the U.S. Senate and Illinois state legislature. In March 2003, Obama voted in the Illinois state Senate to ban semiautomatic rifles.
However, Obama voted for legislation in the state Senate in 2004 to allow retired police officers to carry concealed weapons, The Chicago Tribune reported on April 27, 2004, when Obama was running for the U.S. Senate. The article also reported that critics charged Obama with seeking the favor of the Fraternal Order of Police at a time when he was running for statewide office.
Obama explained in the 2004 Tribune article, “I didn't find that [vote] surprising. I mean, I am consistently on record and will continue to be on record as opposing concealed carry. This was a narrow exception in an exceptional circumstance where a retired police officer might find himself vulnerable as a consequence of the work he had previously done--and had been trained extensively in the proper use of firearms.”
During the Democratic presidential primary of 2008, Obama said, “There is an individual right to bear arms. But it’s subject to common-sense regulation, just like most of our rights are subject to common-sense regulations,” the Chicago Tribune reported on Feb. 16, 2008.
In April 2009, a few months after becoming president, Obama said during a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, “I continue to believe that we can respect and honor the Second Amendment right in our Constitution -- the rights of sportsmen and hunters and homeowners that want to keep their families safe -- to lawfully bear arms, while dealing with assault weapons that, as we know here in Mexico, are used to fuel violence.”
After the Tucson, Ariz. shooting in early 2011, The Arizona Daily Star published a commentary by Obama that called for gun reforms. “First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books,” it stated. “Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data - and therefore do the most to protect our citizens. Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler.”
After the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting in July 2012, Obama said, “I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons. We should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller.”
During the debate at Hofstra University, Obama made one of his strongest pronouncements in favor of gun control since becoming president.
“What I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally,” Obama said. “Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced, but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence -- because, frankly, in my hometown of Chicago there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s, they’re using cheap handguns.”