* Obama says will not prejudge recommendations on reducing
* Says majority of Americans are skeptical of having "more
guns in schools"
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON, Dec 30 President Barack Obama said
in an interview broadcast on Sunday he hopes to get new U.S. gun
control measures passed during the first year of his second term
and is skeptical of a proposal by the National Rifle Association
(NRA) gun lobby to put armed guards in schools.
Obama assigned Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force
to come up with proposals on guns at the beginning of 2013 after
the massacre of 20 children and six adults by a gunman at an
elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, this month.
"I'd like to get it done in the first year. I will put
forward a very specific proposal based on the recommendations
that Joe Biden's task force is putting together as we speak. And
so this is not something that I will be putting off," Obama told
NBC's "Meet the Press" in an interview taped on Saturday.
"I am not going to prejudge the recommendations that are
given to me. I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more
guns in schools. And I think the vast majority of the American
people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our
problem," he said.
The influential NRA has said new gun laws are not a good
answer and has called for some form of armed guards to be
present in all U.S. schools.
Obama, who said the shooting was the worst day of his
presidency, attended a memorial service for the Newtown victims
and promised he would take swift action to prevent further
massacres like that one from being repeated.
The president has faced criticism for failing to take on the
gun lobby after other mass shootings that have occurred during
his time in office. While bristling at the criticism, the
president has indicated that this time something will get done.
"I'm going to be putting forward a package and I'm going to
be putting my full weight behind it. And I'm going to be making
an argument to the American people about why this is important
and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that
something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not
happen again," he said in the interview.
"And the question then becomes whether we are actually shook
up enough by what happened here that it does not just become
another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of
attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away. It
certainly won't feel like that to me."
Gun control is a divisive issue in the United States, where
the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution, and the
NRA has significant political sway.
Proponents of tighter gun laws hope that not having to run
for re-election again will give Obama a strengthened hand, but
any legislative measures would have to pass the
Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which has been
reluctant to support initiatives proposed by the Democratic