In the wake of the shooting at a Washington naval facility that left 13 dead, President Barack Obama renewed his call for Congress to pass background check reforms to keep guns out of the hands of those who would do harm.
“The fact that we do not have a firm enough background-check system is something that makes us more vulnerable to these kinds of mass shootings,” he said in an interview with Telemundo, adding that “ultimately this is something that Congress is going to have to act on.”
But a reluctant Congress remains stalled on the topic of gun control -- little has changed, politically, since the failed attempt to institute reforms in the wake of the Newtown shootings.
April's Manchin-Toomey proposal would have mandated criminal background checks on most private sales and incorporated mental health records into the background check system.
On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed the lack of congressional momentum, saying, "We don't have the votes" to try again for expanded background checks.
Related: Gun legislation still stalled after Washington shooting
Obama also defended giving an address on the economy – which contained more than one barb about legislative gridlock, aimed mostly at Republican lawmakers – even as the manhunt for the shooter was still underway just a few miles from the White House.
“I think that everybody understands that the minute something like this happens, I'm in touch with the F.B.I., I'm in touch with my national security team, we're making sure that all the assets are out there for us to deal with this as well as we can,” he said, noting that he did address the shooting and offer prayers for the victims at the beginning of his Monday speech.
“On the other hand, what is also important to remember is that Congress has a lot of work to do right now,” he added.
In April, the Senate failed to pass a bipartisan compromise bill that would have closed some existing loopholes that allow guns to be sold without background checks and would have created barriers for mentally ill individuals attempting to get firearms.
Obama said that his administration has put in place more than two dozen executive actions designed to ease agency information-sharing and promote mental health treatment.
“I've taken steps that are within my control,” he said. “The next phase now is for Congress to go ahead and move.”
First published September 17 2013, 5:31 PM