Baker praises Obama for addressing nation after California shootings

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STATE HOUSE — Gov. Charlie Baker praised President Barack Obama’s decision to address the nation Sunday night and voiced support for a Marblehead Democrat’s gun bill.

The president addressed the nation from the Oval Office in a short speech where he said the two alleged perpetrators of the mass-murder of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., had “gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America,” and said the U.S. military would “continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary.”

The speech was received by analysts as representing a change in tone from the president without any major new policy announcements.

“The fact that San Bernardino is now appearing to be a terrorist attack of a fairly significant proportion I think makes it important for the president to speak out on both the issue at hand and where we are, and to demonstrate that it’s important to him that we move forward as a country and move forward aggressively to combat terrorism everywhere including here in the United States,” Baker told reporters on Monday afternoon. “For that reason alone, I thought his decision to issue a primetime speech was a good thing.”

The Swampscott Republican, who last week embraced a proposal championed by Democrats to bar people on the F.B.I.’s terrorism watch list from purchasing guns, also backed proposed state legislation filed by Rep. Lori Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat.

Modeled on federal legislation, Ehrlich’s bill would ban anyone on the terror watch list or the federal no-fly list from purchasing weapons in Massachusetts, according to her office. The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate blocked an amendment to an Obamacare-repeal bill which would have barred “suspected or known terrorists” from purchasing guns, according to The Hill.

In a Nov. 20 web post, the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action said the terror list is notoriously flawed, citing news stories about the late South African President Nelson Mandela’s longtime placement on the terror watch list and a story about U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy being blocked from air travel because his name resembled a suspected terrorist’s alias.

“The NRA does not want terrorists or dangerous people to have firearms, any suggestion otherwise is offensive and wrong,” said Jennifer Baker, director of public affairs, in a statement. “Under the current system, law enforcement is notified every time a person on the list attempts to purchase a firearm. Law Enforcement then makes a case by case decision on the appropriate follow-up for each circumstance.”

“I think the no-fly-zone and the terror watch list as a place to start to deny somebody a gun permit is perfectly appropriate,” Baker said when asked about concerns raised about the terror watch-list ensnaring innocent people.

Baker said federal, state and local law enforcement meet “several times a day” at the Fusion Center in Boston, and referring to the coordinated mass-murder undertaken by terrorists in Paris, he said, “They’ve stepped up their efforts since Paris, and they’re going to stay that way probably all the way through the rest of the holidays. And they are talking to each other all the time.”

— Written by Andy Metzger

Copyright State House News Service