Obama tasks Bidento review gun laws

Updated 19 December 2012
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Obama tasks Bidento review gun laws

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama is launching an administration-wide effort to curb gun violence, underscoring the growing political consensus over tightening gun restrictions following the horrific massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.
Obama is tasking Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime gun-control advocate, with spearheading the effort. In remarks from the White House yesterday, Obama will outline a process for pursuing policy changes following the school shooting, though he is not expected to call for specific measures.
The panel will explore possible new gun legislation to rein in the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, but will also look at mental health policies and violence in popular culture.
The president has vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to safeguard the nation’s children after Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children and six adults were killed at the school by a gunman carrying an arsenal of ammunition and a high-powered, military-style rifle.
On Tuesday Obama backed a new bid to revive an assault weapons ban and other new gun laws, as traumatized US politicians wrestled with the aftermath of the worst in a series of mass shootings over the last two years.
The White House sees some urgency in formulating a policy response to the shooting, which has prompted several congressional gun-rights supporters to consider new legislation to control firearms, and there is some fear that their willingness to engage could fade as the shock and sorrow over the Newtown shooting eases.
Many pro-gun lawmakers also have called for a greater focus on mental health issues and the impact of violent entertainment. Obama also prefers a holistic approach, with aides saying stricter gun laws alone are not the answer.
“It’s a complex problem that requires more than one solution,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday. “It calls for not only re-examining our gun laws and how well we enforce them, but also for engaging mental health professionals, law-enforcement officials, educators, parents and communities to find those solutions.”
Still, much of the immediate focus after the shooting is on gun control, an issue that has been dormant in Washington for years. Obama expended little political capital on gun issues during his first term, despite several mass shootings, including a movie theater attack in Aurora, Colorado, in the midst of this year’s presidential campaign.
The White House has begun to signal that Obama may be more proactive on gun issues following the murders of the elementary school youngsters, ages 6 and 7.
Carney said Obama was “actively supportive” of legislation to reinstate a ban on assault-style weapons that expired in 2004. The president long has supported a ban, but exerted little effort to get it passed during his first term. Obama also would support closing a gun show loophole allowing people to buy arms from private dealers without background checks and would be interested in legislation limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines, Carney said.


The policy process Obama was announcing Wednesday was expected to include input from the departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services. The heads of those agencies met with Obama at the White House on Monday.
The massacre shocked the country, and may have shifted the political debate on firearms in US society after years of gun lobby ascendancy.
FROM: AGENCIES


Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

Updated 54 min 3 sec ago
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Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

  • Twenty-five people were injured, four of them severely, when an explosion destroyed an apartment building in the western German city of Wuppertal
  • Police said the explosion rocked the several-story building shortly before midnight Saturday with a large bang, scaring people in surrounding homes so much they ran out into the street in a panic

BERLIN: Twenty-five people were injured, four of them severely, when an explosion destroyed an apartment building in the western German city of Wuppertal, police said Sunday.
Police said the explosion rocked the several-story building shortly before midnight Saturday with a large bang, scaring people in surrounding homes so much they ran out into the street in a panic. The detonation was so severe it destroyed the building’s attic and the top three floors, the German news agency dpa reported.
Fire then broke out in several different parts of the apartment building and firefighters had trouble dousing the flames because parts of the building kept collapsing. They were able to rescue four severely injured from inside the building and sent them to the hospital. Another 21 people were slightly injured and treated by emergency staff at the scene.
Police said Sunday they were still trying to get the fire under control and were investigating the cause of the explosion. They would not comment when asked if the explosion could possibly be terror-related.
A car nearby was destroyed, buried under window frames that were blown onto it by the impact of the explosion. Emergency personnel on Sunday picked up bricks and furniture on the street from the explosion.
Some of the building’s roof beams stood black and eerie in the smoke as police scoured accessible parts of the building for further people trapped inside before giving the all-clear.
The place where the building stood is now a huge gap in a row of apartment buildings in the city’s Langerfeld neighborhood.