By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The President is creating a commission lead by the Vice President to come up with proposals aimed at reducing gun violence.

While President Barack Obama did little in the way of pushing for gun control during his first term, he made it clear on Wednesday, in the aftermath of Newtown, that it will now be a top priority for his administration.

The President said reform must focus not just on weapons but on other factors that mass shootings have in common.

“We’re going to need to make access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun,” Obama said. “We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence.”

The President has called for reinstating the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. Then-Sen. Joe Biden was the author of the 1994 bill that put the ban in place. Biden will lead an inter-agency effort to come up with specific proposals.

“This time the words need to lead to action,” Obama said.

But pushes for reform have come and gone before. Last year, Sen. Al Franken backed an unsuccessful measure to reduce the size of ammunition clips after the Tucson shooting that left six people dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wounded.

“We only got about a dozen co-sponsors and I was appalled that we could not even do that,” Franken said.

The Senator says this time, after Newtown it’s different.

“There is just a heightened sense of awareness. It should not have taken this, but 20 little children,” Franken said,
“We have to act. We have to act.”

But Republicans in Congress are already pushing back on limits. A spokesperson for Minnesota Congressman John Kline said today, “He has not supported previous assault weapons bans and is not likely to do so now. No attempt to define hardware will prevent this sort of senseless act.”


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