President Obama on Tuesday dismissed the notion that he is seeking to take away people’s firearms as he delivered his latest call for stronger gun laws.
Speaking to police chiefs in Chicago, Obama sought to rebut the argument made by conservatives, which he said is designed to stoke fear.
“Every time a mass shootings happens, one of the saddest ironies is suddenly the purchase of guns and ammunition jumps up because folks scared into thinking that, ‘Obama’s gonna use this as an excuse to take away our Second Amendment rights,’” he added. “Nobody’s doing that."
"We’re talking about common-sense measures to make criminals don’t get them, to make sure background checks work, to make sure that we’re protecting ourselves.”
Obama’s sought to convince top law enforcement officials that enacting tougher national gun laws would cut down on the number of officers killed in the line of duty.
The president's Chicago trip was also designed to rally law enforcement support for his effort to change the nation's sentencing laws.
Obama is seeking to enlist police as allies at an uneasy time for law enforcement.
Officers are under greater scrutiny than ever following a string of police-related deaths of unarmed black men across the country, some of which were caught on video.
At the same time, an uptick in violent crime in certain U.S. cities has put officers at greater risk in the line of duty.
The Justice Department released a new report in conjunction with Obama’s speech showing an increase in ambush attacks against police over the past decade, even though rates are still down from highs in the 1990s.
“I understand we won’t all agree on this issue, but it’s time to be honest, fewer gun safety laws don’t mean more freedom, they mean more danger.” Obama said. “Certainly more danger to police. More grieving families, more Americans terrified their loved ones could be next.”
Before his speech, Obama met with the spouses and children of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, as well as families of bystander victims of gun violence in Chicago, the White House said.
“I refuse to accept the notion that we couldn’t have prevented some of those murders, and suicides and kept more families whole,” the president said.
Obama has renewed his push for new gun laws following a mass shooting earlier this month at a community college in Oregon. His initial effort, after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, included expanded background checks and bans on assault weapons.
But the package failed in Congress in the face of opposition from gun-rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, and Republicans who are united in the view that new gun laws would violate Americans' Second Amendment rights.
Obama is now weighing executive actions to impose new background check requirements on certain gun sellers.
Seeking to stop Obama’s latest effort, some Republicans have argued the president is prepared to confiscate guns from Americans.
“You know, the president is thinking about signing an executive order where he wants to take your guns away,” GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump calls for deploying NATO troops against ISIS AFL-CIO head: Trump’s ‘a fraud’ Gingrich, Christie top Trump’s VP list: report MORE said last week at a rally in Anderson, S.C.
Others have argued the irony of Obama’s decision to take his case to Chicago, which has seen record levels of gun violence despite having some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
The Windy City had seen 2,300 shootings this year as of the end of September, up by 400 at the same point in 2014. Homicides have jumped by 21 percent.
“The untold secret in Washington is that [Obama] has all the laws he needs to stop the bloodshed now,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said Tuesday.
“Under the existing federal gun laws, he could take every felon with a gun, drug dealer with a gun and criminal gangbanger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock them up for five years or more. But he won’t do it.”
But Obama countered that Chicago is a great example of why there needs to be a uniform approach to gun control, pointing out 60 percent of guns recovered from crime scenes in the city come from out of state.
“It is easier for a lot of young people in this city, and in a lot of your communities, to buy a gun than buy a book,” he said. “It is easier in some communities to find a gun than to find fresh vegetables in a supermarket. That’s a fact.”