President Obama convened a mental health summit yesterday at the White House, months after the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. With immigration reform pushing gun control further down the president’s list of priorities and Washington consumed by a trio of administration scandals, Obama is embracing an issue on which there’s a rare bipartisan consensus, reports the Washington Examiner. Mental health was raised during the gun control debate, when opponents of expanded background checks for gun buyers suggested it would be more meaningful to create a national database of those who suffer from mental illness and who are forbidden to buy firearms.
Obama on Monday didn’t directly mention guns yesterday but alluded to the potential harm that undetected mental illness would cause. The National Rifle Association said it “supports efforts to fix our broken mental health system. That is something substantive that Congress and the president could do right now that would help prevent future tragedies, unlike the gun control proposals that the president unsuccessfully tried to push through Congress.” That Obama chose not to mention guns at a conference formed in response to Newtown both highlighted the White House’s political conundrum and infuriated those who believe the president has given up on the issue. “Nobody questions whether mental health is important,” said a gun control activist with close White House connections. “The only reason they were doing the mental health event was because of Sandy Hook. So, how can you not talk about Sandy Hook or guns? It’s truly puzzling.”