Friday marks six months since the Tucson shooting which severely injured Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the White House is now hinting it's prepared to add its own voice to the gun control dialogue that tragedy reignited.
"As you know, the President directed the Attorney General to form working groups with key stakeholders to identify common-sense measures that would improve Americans' safety and security while fully respecting Second Amendment rights," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.
"That process is well underway at the Department of Justice with stakeholders on all sides working through these complex issues. And we expect to have some more specific announcements in the near future."
Carney didn't say how soon those announcements would come, nor what they might entail.
Immediately after the incident, which left six people dead and suspect Jared Lee Loughner in a federal prison hospital, eyes turned to the White House and whether the president might weigh in on the brewing Second Amendment debate.
The answer came in the form of an Arizona Daily Star Op-Ed penned by the president himself and printed on March 13.
Without taking sides in the debate, the president illustrated the consequences of the failings of the country's gun control system.
"[O]ne clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun," he wrote of Loughner.
Mr. Obama laid out a centrist approach, appealing for common sense from both sides of the gun debate.
"Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word 'commonsense' isn't a code word for 'confiscation,'" the president wrote.
What remains unclear is just how far out on a limb the president is willing to go on gun control. If he goes too far, the Second Amendment debate could reach great heights as the president battles for his re-election. If he doesn't go far enough, some in his base may view him as weak on gun laws.
This Spring, Carney said it's possible the review underway at the Justice Department could produce legislation. If it does, perhaps a look at the president's op-ed issued the day before Carney's remarks will offer insight as to what kind. "The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that's supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn't been properly implemented," he noted.
Whatever direction the White House takes, the president emphasized that something has to be done, "None of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television."
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