One Year After Tucson Shooting, Obama's Voice on Gun Control Still Muted

Nearly a year after cracks of gunfire changed the course of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' life and took the lives of six others, a national dialogue on gun control has remained but a whisper.

President Obama spoke out early on the issue, but has remained largely silent since.

In a March 13, 2011 Arizona Daily Star Op-Ed, the president decried the conditions which led to suspect Jared Lee Loughner, now in a federal prison hospital, to gain access to weapons.

"A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun. He used it to murder six people and wound 13 others," Mr. Obama lamented. "The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that's supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn't been properly implemented."

The president tasked the Department of Justice to form working groups on the issue, which would advise the president on a path forward that would balance safety with Second Amendment rights.

By early July, the White House Press Secretary was predicting quick action on the issue.

"That process is well underway at the Department of Justice with stakeholders on all sides working through these complex issues," Jay Carney said at a briefing. "And we expect to have some more specific announcements in the near future," he added.The "near future" was defined as weeks, not months. Mr. Obama was expected to take some sort of executive action which would reflect the same priorities he called for in his Op-Ed earlier in the year.

Months passed and the president took no administrative action on the national background check system. It's not clear at this point that he will.

Gun control advocates are restless.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has urged supporters to forward a pre-written letter to the administration urging the president to lead on the issue. "Your Administration's extraordinary silence on the gun issue has emboldened the gun lobby to move its dangerous agenda forward," the message reads, in part.

"Please take a leadership stand on legislation that would strengthen Brady criminal background checks, including closing the gun show loophole, as well as other sensible regulations like prohibiting gun sales to suspected terrorists and giving law enforcement the tools it needs to crack down on corrupt gun dealers," the message urges.

Congresswoman Giffords and her husband, retired Navy captain Mark Kelly, have each met with President Obama as Giffords continues her recovery.

On Sunday evening, the couple is expected to participate in a vigil at the University of Arizona to mark one year since the shooting.

The president called Giffords Sunday "to offer his support in advance of the candlelight vigil commemorating the anniversary of the tragic shooting in Tucson," the White House said in a statement.

Noting the president's amazement at Giffords' courage and determination in her recovery, the statement continued, "The President told Rep. Giffords that he and the First Lady keep her, the families of the fallen, and the whole Tucson community in their daily thoughts and prayers and, along with the entire nation, continue to join her in mourning those lost."

Critics assert that politics are shackling the president's ability to take a firm stand on gun control one year later, especially if he's to make any headway in gun rights-supporting states, while his supporters cite blanket GOP obstruction tactics for anything the president proposes.