President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden revived the emotional impact of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre of 20 children to boost their campaign against “gun violence” — and also to portray Democratic politicians as the best guardians of the nation’s vulnerable children.
“These are our kids … what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up and do everything that they’re capable of doing — not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country,” he said, likely aiming his pitch at swing-voting suburban mothers who could be critical to a Democratic success in the 2014 midterm election.
“This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change,” he declared while being flanked by children.
Obama also quoted letters from children, described a picture drawn by a seven-year-old girl killed in Newtown, and pushed for a series of new government powers, roles and spending.
He called for new curbs on gun sales and for an expansion of psychiatric oversight of teenagers, a federal ban on guns that resemble military weapons and a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Obama also called on Congress to expand background checks to anyone buying a gun.
“From a political standpoint, [the event was] designed to seize the moment and ride on the moral high ground” to win a federal victory before public opinion reverts to its normal preference for local and individual solutions, said Michael Franc, the vice president for government studies at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
The careful use of emotional messages likely will hinder government from devising beneficial measures, he said, but it reflects the techniques learned by Obama while working as a community organizer in Chicago, he said.
“It is his style. … It is probably the Saul Alinsky model applied to a mass murder,” said Franc. ”In their heart of hearts, they do think this is going to work,” he said.
But more than 500 people were killed during 2012 in gang disputes and other fights in Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago, which is dominated by progressive politicians and lobbies. That toll has made his city the nation’s murder capital.