Psaki on gun control: ‘The politics are perplexing’

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki joined Yahoo News’ Julia Munslow, in a wide-ranging live interview streamed on TikTok. During the discussion, Psaki told Yahoo News that she agrees with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s assessment that gun violence in the United States is a “public health issue.”

“There’s no question it’s a public health emergency, it’s a public health crisis,” Psaki noted, adding that, as a parent of young children, the daily reports of mass shootings “impacts mothers and parents as well.”

Video Transcript

JULIA MUNSLOW: We actually have a question from one of our TikTok users. What is President Biden's approach in order to motivate Republicans, specifically, to move forward with better gun control measures?

JEN PSAKI: Well, first, I get it, and he gets it, and the politics are perplexing. It's incredibly frustrating when the majority of the American public, and definitely the vast majority of young people, support putting in place gun reform measures. Look, I don't think there's a secret about where the president stands to any Republican in Congress.

What he is very motivated by, and excited by, and has been for the decades he's been working on this issue, back to the '90s when he got the assault weapons ban put in place and background checks put in place, is the activism of young people and the activism of a lot of these grassroots organizations. And a lot of the action may happen in states first. You know, that is certainly a possibility.

But there's no question that every time there's a tragic shooting, it's a reminder of how necessary and overdue reforms and actions are. And he's going to keep pressing on it. And he is going to work in partnership with activists, young people, older people who have been passionate about putting these gun reform measures in place. We just have to keep at it, and that's his view.

JULIA MUNSLOW: So we know that this is an issue that is incredibly emotional for a lot of young people, especially those who have experienced school shootings or even done school shooting lockdowns-- the drills. And they also raise it as a mental health issue. And over the weekend, we saw Dr. Fauci calling gun violence a public health emergency. How is the administration planning to tackle the mental health side of this crisis?

JEN PSAKI: There's no question it's a public health emergency. It's a public health crisis. And while I'm a bit removed from school, I do have young kids who are going to be going to school. And it impacts mothers and parents as well. You know, I think the reason that the president feels it's so important to move forward with gun reform measures, with gun safety measures is because of the trauma that he's seeing-- in part because of the trauma he's seeing with kids, with young kids, with families who just want to feel safe going to school and just want to feel safe being in their communities.

There's no reason anyone needs to have an assault weapon. There's no reason that there shouldn't be universal background checks to ensure guns don't get in the hands of people who should not have those guns. He believes we need to address this and address the mental health impact that we're seeing in young people by putting reform measures in place. Some of that may be in states. He's going to keep pushing on the federal level, because he sees what the impact looks like.