WASHINGTON (AP) - Six months after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, the White House is preparing to propose some new steps on gun safety, though they're likely to fall short of the bold measures activists would like to see.
Spokesman Jay Carney said that the new steps would be made public "in the near future." He didn't offer details, but people involved in talks at the Justice Department to craft the new measures said they expected to see something in the next several weeks. Whatever is proposed is not expected to involve legislation or take on major issues, like banning assault weapons, but could include executive action to strengthen the background check system or other steps.
"The president directed the attorney general to form working groups with key stakeholders to identify common-sense measures that would improve American safety and security while fully respecting Second Amendment rights," Carney said Thursday. "That process is well under way at the Department of Justice, with stakeholders on all sides working through these complex issues, and we expect to have some more specific announcements in the near future."
Anti-gun groups have been disappointed to see no action so far from President Barack Obama, who supported tough gun control measures earlier in his career but fell largely silent upon becoming president. Some activists were using the opportunity of the six-month anniversary of the Giffords shooting on Friday to speak up.
The shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., killed six people and wounded more than a dozen others, including Giffords. Two months later, Obama wrote an opinion piece in Giffords' local paper, the Arizona Daily Star, calling for "sound and effective steps" to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, including strengthening background checks. So far the president has done nothing and administration officials have signaled that no major steps should be expected, given the climate in Congress against gun legislation of any kind.
That's not stopping activists from pushing Obama. The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sent Obama a letter calling him to act.
"To prevent the next Tucson, we need a comprehensive background check system, which is what the president called for in April," said the director of the mayors' group, Mark Glaze. "That said, there are many steps the president can take on his own authority, without new laws, that could make a very real difference."
The group's suggestions included enforcing reporting laws that could have stopped the Tucson shooter from getting a weapon.