WASHINGTON -- The White House has so far declined to weigh in on possible legislative responses to the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., this Friday.

But in a briefing with reporters who were travelling with President Barack Obama as he met with the victims and their families in Colorado on Sunday, Press Secretary Jay Carney signaled that the administration would tackle issues of gun violence within the confines of current legislation.

"I would say that the president's views on this are as he has stated and as he spelled out in the op-ed that was published in an Arizona newspaper," said Carney, "which is that he believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons."

"The president's view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law," he added later. "And that's his focus right now."

Carney mentioned "existing law" three times in all over the course of the briefing. The comments didn't preclude the possibility of the administration pursuing new legislative fixes to current gun laws, though in a follow up email to The Huffington Post, Carney noted that he "said nothing about proposed or hypothetical legislation."

But the repeated citation of "existing law" did suggest that both the White House and the Department of Justice will look to close current loopholes -- whether on background checks or coordination between federal and state authorities -- rather than focus on new bills. Asked at one point about the prospect of a renewed push for an assault weapons ban, Carney agreed with the questioner that "there has been opposition to that since it expired within Congress" in 2004.

If the reaction to the 2011 shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) serves as a guide, there will likely to be little political appetite to pursue new gun policy in the wake of the Aurora shootings. Back then, lawmakers made a push to limit high-capacity magazines that allows a shooter to fire 30-plus rounds without having to reload. The president proposed more limited changes in an Arizona Daily Star op-ed.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the main senator behind a stalled bill to restrict high-capacity magazines, has pledged to push it again. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the more vocal proponents of gun control in the country, has urged both Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to outline their proposals to deal with the issue of gun violence. But those two individuals and their allies are likely to be outnumbered by the lawmakers who are more eager to maintain the status quo.

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  • US President Barack Obama arrives alongs

    US President Barack Obama arrives alongside Colorado Senator Mark Udall (L) to speak at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, July 22, 2012, following a visit with victims and family members of last week's shootings during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, 'The Dark Knight Rises,' at a nearby movie theater that left 12 killed and 58 injured. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US President Barack Obama arrives alongs

    US President Barack Obama arrives alongside Colorado Senator Mark Udall (L) to speak at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, July 22, 2012, following a visit with victims and family members of last week's shootings during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, 'The Dark Knight Rises,' at a nearby movie theater that left 12 killed and 58 injured. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US President Barack Obama speaks alongsi

    US President Barack Obama speaks alongside Colorado Senator Mark Udall (left) and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (right) at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, July 22, 2012, following a visit with victims and family members of last week's shootings during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, 'The Dark Knight Rises,' at a nearby movie theater that left 12 killed and 58 injured. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US President Barack Obama speaks at the

    US President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, July 22, 2012, following a visit with victims and family members of last week's shootings during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, 'The Dark Knight Rises,' at a nearby movie theater that left 12 killed and 58 injured. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • President Obama Visits Colorado In Wake Of Movie Theater Shootings

    AURORA, CO - JULY 22: (AFP OUT) People watch from a second floor window as U.S. President Barack Obama's motorcade arrives at University of Colorado Hospital July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Obama met with victims of last Friday's movie theater mass shooting. Police in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, say that James Holmes, 24, in custody after he is suspected of killing 12 people and injuring 59 during a midnight screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' last Friday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Medical staff and visitors look out the

    Medical staff and visitors look out the window as US President Barack Obama's motorcade arrives at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, July 22, 2012, for a visit with family members of the victims of last week's shootings at a movie theater in Aurora. AFP PHOTO/Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Medical staff and visitors look out the

    Medical staff and visitors look out the window as US President Barack Obama's motorcade arrives at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, July 22, 2012, for a visit with family members of the victims of last week's shootings at a movie theater in Aurora. AFP PHOTO/Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Barack Obama, Daniel Oates, Steve Hogan, John Hickenlooper, Mark Udall

    President Barack Obama, second from left, talks with from right, Aurora Colo., Mayor Steve Hogan, Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., after Obama arrived at at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., Sunday, July 22, 2012. Obama is traveling to Aurora, Colorado to visit with families of victims of the movie theater shooting as well as local officials. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Barack Obama, Daniel Oates, Mark Udall, John Hickenlooper

    President Barack Obama, second from left, talks with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., left, as Aurora, Colo., Police Chief Daniel Oates, right, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, second from right, watch, after Obama arrived at at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., Sunday, July 22, 2012. Obama is traveling to Aurora, Colorado to visit with families of victims of the movie theater shooting as well as local officials. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Barack Obama, Steve Hogan, Daniel Oates

    President Obama greets Aurora, Colo., Mayor Steve Hogan, center, Aurora Polic Chief Daniel Oates after Air Force One landed at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

  • Barack Obama, Daniel Oates, Steve Hogan

    President Barack Obama greets Aurora (Colo.) Police Chief Daniel Oates, as Mayor Steve Hogan, right, watches after Obama arrived at at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., Sunday, July 22, 2012. Obama is traveling to Aurora to visit with families of victims of the movie theater shooting as well as local officials. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Barack Obama, Daniel Oates, Steve Hogan

    President Barack Obama greets Aurora (Colo.) Mayor Steve Hogan as Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, left, watches after Obama arrived at at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama steps off Marine One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, July 22, 2012. Obama is traveling to Aurora, Colo., to visit with families of victims of the movie theater shooting as well as local officials. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama walks to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, July 22, 2012. Obama is traveling to Aurora, Colo., to visit with families of victims of the movie theater shooting as well as local officials. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama salutes as he walks up the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, July 22, 2012. Obama is traveling to Aurora, Colo., to visit with families of victims of the movie theater shooting as well as local officials. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama waves from the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, July 22, 2012. Obama is traveling to Aurora, Colo., to visit with families of victims of the movie theater shooting as well as local officials. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama leaves the White House in Wsshington for a trip to visit the families of victims of the shooting in Colorado, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama leaves the White House for a trip to visit the families of victims of the shooting in Colorado, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)