Slatest PM: Obama's Vague Gun-Control Promise

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 17 2012 4:27 PM

Slatest PM: Obama's Vague Gun-Control Promise

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President Obama pauses as he speaks during a memorial service for the victims and relatives of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Conn.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

White House Action, or at least the Promise of It: Wall Street Journal: "The White House on Monday said President Barack Obama would seek some stricter gun-control measures in the coming weeks to prevent mass shootings but declined to provide details of what he would propose, suggesting Mr. Obama will oversee a national conversation on gun violence that may take a while to settle. 'It's a complex problem that will require a complex solution,' White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. Mr. Carney said the president wants to engage the public, parents, law enforcement and mental-health professionals in the coming weeks to find the right solutions. Pressed on whether the president's approach would include addressing gun control, Mr. Carney said, 'I think that it's part of it, but it is far from all of it.'"

The Mood on Capitol Hill: Washington Post: "As funerals began in Connecticut on Monday, there was further proof that Friday’s mass shooting has reawakened a long-dormant debate in Washington: whether, and how, to limit assault weapons like the one used by the gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Two prominent Democratic senators — both of whom had won support from gun-rights groups in the past — said the killings had changed long-held positions. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said they would be open to greater regulation of assault rifles."

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Specifically, in the Dem-Controlled Senate: Politico: "With pressure building from Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opened the door Monday for legislative action on gun control in the wake of the deadly massacre at a Connecticut elementary school last week. While he said 'no one law' or policy can stop a 'determined madman,' Reid argued that Washington is 'not doing enough' to protect the public from tragic episodes like the one that unfolded in Newtown .... 'In the coming days and weeks, we’ll engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws in a culture that allows this violence to continue to grow,' Reid said on the Senate floor. 'We have no greater responsibility than keeping our most vulnerable and most precious resource — our children — safe.'

It's Monday, welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Lanza's Home Life: Washington Post: "The parents of Adam Lanza ... divorced in 2009 after 28 years of marriage because their relationship had 'broken down irretrievably,' court records show. Nancy Lanza had no income at the time the marriage was legally dissolved, in September 2009. Her ex-husband, Peter Lanza, earned an annual salary of nearly $445,000 as an executive at General Electric and agreed to pay annual alimony of $240,000. That figure was scheduled to increase steadily for cost of living considerations, and Nancy Lanza was due to receive $289,800 in 2012, court records show. In interviews, people who knew Nancy Lanza say she was deeply devoted to her troubled younger son, who was extremely bright but socially awkward and—until Friday—was not known as someone who was potentially violent. Newtown police had no previous contact with Adam Lanza or concerns about him, state police Lt. Paul Vance said at a briefing Monday."

Collecting Evidence: New York Times: "As the investigation into the shootings unfolds, the spokesman, Lt. J. Paul Vance, said at a news conference that investigators 'did seize significant evidence' at the home Mr. Lanza shared with his mother. He declined to elaborate, though, and when pressed by reporters about whether it was computer evidence, said only, 'If there is computer evidence — and I strongly say that, if — we do have the computer crimes team in our state forensic laboratory that are expert at retrieving any kind of evidence and data.'"

College Transcripts: Associated Press: "[Adam Lanza] took college classes when he was only 16, a spokesman for Western Connecticut State University said Monday. Paul Steinmetz, spokesman for the Danbury school, confirmed that Adam Lanza earned a 3.26 grade point average while a student there. He dropped out of a German language class and withdrew from a computer science class, but earned an A in a computer class, A-minus in American history and B in macroeconomics."

Couldn't Feel Pain: Associated Press: "At Newtown High School, Adam Lanza had trouble relating to fellow students and teachers, but that was only part of his problem. He seemed not to feel physical or psychological pain in the same way as classmates. Richard Novia, the school district's head of security until 2008, who also served as adviser for the school technology club, said Lanza clearly 'had some disabilities.' 'If that boy would've burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically,' Novia told The Associated Press in a phone interview. 'It was my job to pay close attention to that.'"

More Slate Coverage of the Newtown Shooting:

Cooling Partisan Passions: New York Times: "[T]he tragedy could have an impact on another crucial legislative issue: the current contest over taxes and spending. While seemingly unrelated—the emotionally wrenching holiday-season massacre of 20 first graders and six of their guardians, and Washington’s mind-numbing fiscal fight to reduce deficits—the first cannot fail to have a salutary effect on the latter, say veterans of Washington’s partisan wars from both parties. ... Neither Republicans nor Democrats can predict exactly what the impact might be, though many see cause for optimism for reasons that are both personal and political to the players in the White House and the lame-duck Congress. And in lessening attention to the fiscal dispute, it could give the party leaders a little more room to maneuver."

Speaking of the Cliff: Reuters: "President Barack Obama and top Republican John Boehner met at the White House on Monday as hopes rose that Washington will be able to head off steep tax hikes and spending cuts that could push the economy into recession next year. The 45-minute meeting is a further sign that talks to avert the 'fiscal cliff' could be yielding progress after weeks of stalemate, and aides from both parties said they were optimistic that a deal could be reached in coming days. 'We're getting close,' said one Democratic aide, who added however that a deal is not imminent."

South Carolina's Next Senator: The (Columbia, S.C.) State: "U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, who overcame poverty in North Charleston to build a successful business and political career, was appointed today by Gov. Nikki Haley to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Jim DeMint. ... Scott, who will be sworn in Jan. 3, will become the first African American U.S. senator from the South since Blanche Bruce of Mississippi in 1881."

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