WASHINGTON -- In his last press conference of his first term, President Barack Obama began the salesmanship of his soon-to-be-revealed proposal of gun policy reforms and pledged to take executive action in certain cases.
While keeping most of the details of his proposal private, Obama did tease out a few, highlighting his desire for stronger background checks for gun purchases, limits on the availability of high-capacity magazines and some restrictions on assault weapons.
The president declined to predict whether any or all of those policies would make it through Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. But he urged members to weigh the moral elements of the issue alongside the politics.
"My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works, what should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we're reducing the incidence of gun violence," said Obama. "And I think we can do that in a sensible way that comports with the Second Amendment and then members of Congress, I think, are going to have to have a debate and examine their own conscience."
Vice President Joe Biden's gun policy task force is set to release its recommendations as early as Tuesday. What the president will do with those recommendations and when he will act on them is still unclear, though top administration officials have said the goal is to move as fast as legislatively possible.
Substantively, there were two bits of news that came from the president's remarks. First, he couched his language on high-capacity magazines, calling for restricting access to them instead of prohibiting their sale and production, as many gun control groups have demanded. The second was Obama's willingness to consider executive action, which he suggested he would do mainly on the data-gathering front.
"I'm confident there are some steps that we can take that don't require legislation and that are within my authority as president," said Obama. "And where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence, then I want to go ahead and take it."