U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed not to support any candidate running for office who does not “support common sense gun reform.”
Penning a Jan. 7 op-ed in The New York Times, the president stated that “gun violence in our country is a crisis” that will not be resolved during his presidency. Instead, he wrote, “we all have a responsibility” to curb gun violence.
What has made the most waves from Obama’s op-ed is his declaration that he will “not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform.”
Obama then called upon the 90 percent of Americans who support background checks on firearm sales to join him in making the issue a dealbreaker for voting. He wrote that, if Americans demand that their candidates support gun safety, then “we will elect the leadership we deserve.”
The president then took aim at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) sway over Congress, writing that gun manufacturers currently get to set the agenda of gun laws in the US.
Yet today, the gun industry is almost entirely unaccountable. Thanks to the gun lobby’s decades of efforts, Congress has blocked our consumer products safety experts from being able to require that firearms have even the most basic safety measures. They’ve made it harder for the government’s public health experts to conduct research on gun violence. They’ve guaranteed that manufacturers enjoy virtual immunity from lawsuits, which means that they can sell lethal products and rarely face consequences.
GOP presidential candidates, who are overwhelmingly against any gun legislation, are unlikely to ever receive Obama’s endorsement. White House press secretary Josh Earnest explained that the president wouldn’t support a GOP politician just because they were moderate on gun control, USA Today reports.
His new conditions are directed at the Democratic candidates.
One candidate who may fail Obama’s litmus test is Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has said that Americans should hold gun manufacturers responsible for shooting deaths “not anymore than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beat somebody over the head with a hammer,” Politico reports.
The Vermont senator’s campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said that they do not need the president’s endorsement.