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January 28, 2013

Obama on gun control: This isn't just about high-profile mass shootings

President Obama told a group of law enforcement officials meeting at the White House on gun safety today that he hopes Congress will listen to them as the administration presses for gun control measures, beyond the executive actions that Obama has taken.

"As we've indicated before, the only way that we're going to be able to do everything that needs to be done is with the cooperation of Congress," Obama said. "And that means passing serious laws that restrict the access and availability of assault weapons and magazine clips that aren't necessary for hunters and sportsmen and those responsible gun owners who are out there. It means that we are serious about universal background checks. It means that we take seriously issues mental health and school safety."

The group included law enforcement officials with first hand experience of mass shootings: Obama sat two chairs away from Newtown, Conn., police chief Michael Kehoe and vice president Joe Biden sat next to Aurora, Colo., police chief Daniel Oates.

Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy and Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey were also at the meeting, and Obama said local law enforcement officials "recognize that it's not only the high-profile mass shootings that are of concern here, it's also what happens on a day-in-day-out basis in places like Chicago or Philadelphia, where young people are victims of gun violence every single day."

And he said they'd talk about not only new laws or better enforcement, but "what are we doing to make sure that we've got the strongest possible law enforcement teams on the ground?  What are we doing to hire more cops?  What are we doing to make sure that they're getting the training that they need?  What are we doing to make sure our sheriff's offices in rural counties have access to some of the resources that some of the big cities do in order to deal with some of these emergencies?"

He noted the group of officers came from a "wide cross-section of communities across the country," and said that "hopefully, if law enforcement officials who are dealing with this stuff every single day can come to some basic consensus in terms of steps that we need to take, Congress is going to be paying attention to them and we'll be able to make progress."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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