In answer to Helen Thomas’s question about reinstating the ban, Gibbs said, “Obviously, we, while we were overseas last week, were surprised and shocked at the news at what had happened in New York. … That’s one of the reasons that increased money to hire more police officers as in the Recovery Act. I was asked specifically about assault weapons. I think the president would — the president believes there are other strategies we can take to enforce the laws that are already on our books.”
This new position is in direct contrast to an ABC News story in late February that Obama was seeking a new assault weapons ban. Last night on CBS News Attorney General Eric Holder said that he looks forward to working with the NRA, and would not endorse bringing back the assault weapons ban. Obama’s new position is bound to upset many anti-gun Democrats, because then candidate Obama campaigned strongly on reinstituting the assault weapons ban during the 2008 Democratic primaries.
Even though the White House website still mentions reinstituting the ban, the administration seems close to abandoning the idea. At a time when Obama should be focused on the economy, reviving the assault weapons ban issue would only serve as a distraction. If Obama does decide not to revive the ban, it would be a major blow to his critics on the right, who have been spreading rumors that Obama is out to take everyone’s guns away.
By reading between the lines, it is clear that, as much as it may anger those on the left, Obama has no intention of bringing back the ban. It must be pointed out that none of the recent civilian shootings in states like New York and Alabama were carried out with an assault weapon. The ban is more symbolic than it is effective in reducing violence. I agree with the White House that there are better ways to reduce violence than banning assault weapons. If disturbed people want to kill, they will find a way to kill whether assault weapons are legal or banned.