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Obama agenda: Newtown

The AP: “President Barack Obama is vowing to use ‘whatever power this office holds’ to safeguard the nation’s children, raising the prospect that he will pursue policy changes to stem gun violence in the wake of an elementary school massacre. … The newly re-elected president offered few specifics about how he planned to proceed, saying only that he will engage with law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators in the coming weeks.”

Here’s the transcript of Obama’s speech in Newtown.

The Washington Post calls it “Obama’s enough-is-enough” speech.

The Hartford Courant: “We Must Change, President Tells Nation.” Its lede: “A somber President Obama told a shattered community that the nation has let its children down.”

The Boston Globe: “President Barack Obama comforts town, vows to work to prevent more mass shootings.”

The New Yorker: “Obama in Newtown: A speech about guns.”

Even People magazine: “President Obama Meets with Grieving Families.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial page says now’s not the time to have a discussion about what the government can do to prevent this kind of tragedy (it specifically talks only about mental health and doesn’t mention the word “gun.”).

The Hartford Courant editorial page disagrees and believes now’s exactly the time to have that discussion: President Obama “offered no specifics; but specifics must be forthcoming. His press officer had said Friday that now was not the time to talk of policy responses such as gun control. We disagree; now is exactly the time, before we fall back into a collective stupor in which we don't do anything but hope it doesn't happen again.”

The same goes for Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords. He wrote on Facebook: "This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve leaders who have the courage to participate in a meaningful discussion about our gun laws - and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America. This can no longer wait." (H/T: Political Wire.)

The Washington Post editorial page: “Time to talk about gun control.”

Even the conservative New York Post: “[E]fforts by gun-control advocates over the years have demonstrated — if nothing else — how strongly attached to its guns America really is. Still, given the mass shootings of recent years — from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Aurora to the Oregon mall nightmare just last Tuesday — it’s hard not to wonder whether the nation’s patience with powerful firearms isn’t wearing thin. How weapons capable of extinguishing 26 lives in a matter of minutes routinely end up in the hands of madmen is something even the gun lobby will need to reckon with — if for no other reason than its own self-interest.”

The New York Times editorial page: “The more that we hear about gun control and nothing happens, the less we can believe it will ever come. Certainly, it will not unless Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders show the courage to make it happen.”

“A former adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign called Saturday for a concerted national conversation on gun control, saying the country cannot continue ‘doing nothing’ after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left dozens dead, including 20 children. Mark DeMoss, the Christian conservative public relations executive, told Politico that placing some limits on guns wouldn’t have to conflict with constitutional liberties, as many on the right contend.”

Still, National Review’s editors push back on efforts for more gun control: “It is easy, and in moments of despair such as Friday quite understandable, to scream ‘more’ to gun control, ‘more’ to the morass of airport-style security that is spreading its way across our institutions, ‘more’ to the diagnosis and institutionalization of the mentally ill. But it is much harder to write the laws that would have guaranteed Adam Lanza could never find a gun, or enter a school by force, or go without what diagnosis, treatment, and supervision he might have needed. And hardest of all to write them in such a way that the republic we’d be left with would still look like America in the ways we value most.

“This is not so say such laws cannot or should not be written — in the field of mental health, in particular, we think there are commonsense reforms that might make tragedies such as Newtown less likely — but merely to caution humility and care in their crafting. The need for humility is especially acute in the case of gun control. The irreducible challenge the Second Amendment poses to gun restrictionists is that it does not bestow upon the people a right they previously lacked. It proscribes the government from infringing upon a right the people already have. It is not that the people are allowed to arm. It is that the government is disallowed to disarm them.”

National Review’s Jaffe focuses on the mentally ill. Yet nothing in it is about how to prevent the mentally ill from getting guns.

National Review’s Geraghty raises this sticky situation: “The usual argument on this point is ‘we need to ramp up our mental health efforts,’ but that’s easier said than done. And what we’re really talking about is involuntary detainment and observation of people if they are deemed threatening by ‘odd behavior.’ If you think seeking therapy and mental health treatment is stigmatized now, wait until the government can easily access your mental health records without your consent to determine if you’re a threat to society.”

Ron Fornier: “What if there is nobody or nothing to blame? Would that make this inexplicable horror unbearable?”

Mike Huckabee Friday on Fox: "We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"

He tried to clarify later: "It’s far more than taking prayer or bible reading out of the school … we’re asked where was God [in this tragedy] … we’ve escorted [God] right out of our culture and marched him off the public square … and then we express our surprise that a culture without him actually reflects what it has become.”

And Louie Gohmert: "I wish to God the principal had had an M4 in her office, locked up, so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out ... and takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids." (H/T: Political Wire.)