President Barack Obama vowed to keep the pressure on Congress to revive a federal assault weapons ban and said a consensus is emerging for universal background checks on gun buyers.
After meeting yesterday with local, state and federal law enforcement officials at the Minneapolis Police Department’s special operations center, Obama said Americans should tell their elected representatives to support his agenda.
“There’s no legislation to eliminate all guns,” said Obama, a Democrat. “Tell them now is the time for action.”
At the start of his second term, Obama is seeking quick action in Congress on two divisive issues: immigration law and stricter controls on firearms. Last week, he traveled to Las Vegas where he spoke to a rally on immigration.
Through a mix of 23 executive actions and additional legislative proposals, Obama is seeking the most ambitious changes on gun control in decades. The effort follows a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults.
The president is asking Congress for background checks on all gun buyers, a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips and the reinstatement of a ban on sales of military-style assault weapons that expired in 2004.
“Weapons of war have no place on our streets,” Obama said. His calls for tighter firearms restrictions have met with resistance from the gun lobby and lawmakers from both parties.
Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association, has called the administration’s drive the first step toward a national firearms registry and the further shrinking of gun owners’ rights.
“If you limit the American public’s access to semi-automatic technology, you limit their ability to survive,” he said Feb. 3 on the “Fox News Sunday” program.
LaPierre called universal background checks a “fraud.”
“It’s never going to be universal,” he said. “The criminals aren’t going to comply with it.”
Obama won Minnesota and Nevada in 2008 and 2012, and both states provide the administration with illustrations for issues he’s seeking to highlight.
Minnesota is the home state of B. Todd Jones, who Obama has nominated to become head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF has been without a director for six years. Jones is currently the U.S. attorney in Minnesota and acting director of the bureau.
Minneapolis also last month hosted a five-state regional gun summit. Mayor R.T. Rybak has called on Congress to expand the ability of local and federal law enforcement officers to share information about guns used in crimes and confirm a permanent director of the ATF.
As Obama focused on the gun issue, White House officials were pushed for immigration legislation. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to San Diego and El Paso, Texas, to inspect border security operations and meet with local officials. After her trip, Napolitano, along with White House policy director Cecilia Munoz, will meet today with law enforcement officials from around the country to discuss the president’s immigration plan.
Obama plans to hold meetings today with labor organizers, activists, and several chief executive officers -- including Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Lloyd Blankfein and Yahoo! Inc.’s Marissa Mayer -- to discuss the economic impact of his proposal on U.S. competitiveness.
The White House yesterday also fielded more questions about Obama’s experience with sport shooting.
The White House on Feb. 2 released a photo of the president skeet shooting at Camp David last Aug. 4, for his birthday. After Obama said in an interview with the New Republic magazine that he and guests at the presidential retreat in rural Maryland shoot “all the time,” some critics expressed skepticism.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that “there were persistent questions” about the president’s shooting that while “it should have been apparent” that he had done it when he said he did, “we released a photo to demonstrate that.”
Carney also said that Obama has shot firearms on multiple occasions and at locations other than Camp David, without releasing any additional details.