Obama sees Newtown massacre as call for broad government action

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama is attempting to use the Newtown massacre to achieve a range of progressives’ goals, including a greater government role in shaping the behavior and character of children.

The president sketched out his agenda on Wednesday during a rare midday press conference.

He announced the creation of a multi-agency task force, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. The group will work with advocacy groups and will identify proposals by January, which “I intend to push without delay,” Obama said.

“We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence,” he said. ”

“We’re going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun … and any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts,” he said.

“There are whole bunch of proposals that have been thought about and debated,” he said.

Among the ideas likely to be pushed are the Justice Department’s “anti-bullying” programs, which use federal police power and lawsuits to force regulation on playgrounds and kids’ social lives.

Conservative ideas about family-led childrearing, personal responsibility and modest government are not likely to be embraced. Biden’s panel will  “even take a look at some bad ideas before disposing of them,” Obama said.

Obama called for broad public support to push the new initiative. “It is  going to take a wave of Americans — mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals — and, yes, gun owners — standing up and saying ‘enough’ on behalf of our kids,” he claimed.

He also asked the media to support his plan, saying he needed “all of you,” to the reporters attending his press conference.

He repeated his claim that the Newtown massacre amounts to a national crisis that justifies far-reaching changes. “If there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation — all of us — to try,” he said.

Obama said he chose Biden to run the task force because of his Senate experience in writing gun-control laws.

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