President Barack Obama turned to law enforcement on Monday
for support in his push to tighten gun laws, meeting at the
White House with police chiefs from cities scarred by mass
shootings and calling for more officers nationwide.
Obama, who has made stricter gun control measures a top
policy goal for this year, reiterated his desire that
lawmakers pass measures he recently unveiled to curb gun
violence, including an assault weapons ban and universal
background checks for gun purchases.
The meeting was the latest in a series of discussions that
Obama is using to try to build political support for tighter
gun control after 20 young children and six adults were
killed in December by a gunman at a school in Newtown,
Newtown's police chief, Michael Kehoe, attended the meeting
along with his counterparts from Aurora, Colorado, where 12
people were killed and 58 wounded in a mass shooting at a
movie theater last July, and from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where
six people were killed and four wounded at a Sikh temple in
In remarks to reporters at the start of the meeting, Obama
noted that the police chiefs realized the problem of gun
violence extends beyond high-profile mass shootings.
"That's why part of the conversation that we're going to be
having today relates not only to the issue of new laws or
better enforcement of our gun laws, it also means what are we
doing to make sure that we've got the strongest possible law
enforcement teams on the ground?" Obama said.
"What are we doing to hire more cops? What are we doing to
make sure that they're getting the training that they need?"
Obama wants to ban military-style assault weapons and ensure
that all gun buyers are subjected to background checks. But
he needs Congress to pass legislation on the politically
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on
Wednesday on the measures.
"The only way that we're going to be able to do everything
that needs to be done is with the cooperation of Congress,"
"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," he said.
The National Rifle Association, the country's most powerful
pro-gun lobby group, has vowed to defeat the plan, which it
says would infringe on gun ownership rights protected by the
Monday's meeting included Vice President Joe Biden, U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary
Obama and Biden have said their plan would not affect the
rights of responsible gun owners. Biden traveled to Richmond,
Virginia last week with that message.