Obama: 'Common sense' gun control for criminals, mentally ill

President Obama on Wednesday vowed to pursue a consensus on violence reduction, “looking at everything we can do” to prevent gun crimes like the tragedy in Colorado last week.
 
In his first remarks on gun violence since the movie theater shooting that left 12 people dead and dozens injured, Obama reiterated his support for the Second Amendment. But the president also said there should be limitations on guns like AK47s, which “belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals.
 

ADVERTISEMENT
“I like most Americans believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms,” Obama said in a speech before the National Urban League in New Orleans. “I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.
 
“But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK47s belong in the hands of soldiers not in the hands of criminals, that they belong on the battlefield of war not on the streets of our cities,” he said.
 
In his remarks--the most extensive on the gun control topic during his presidency-- Obama said he believes most gun owners would agree “we should do everything possible" to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons and that criminal records should be carefully examined before they obtain firearms. The president, who also spent time with victims of the Colorado shooting on Sunday, also offered that "a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily.
 
“These steps shouldn’t be controversial,” he said. “They should be common sense."
 
At the same time, Obama said parents and teachers should look after young people “so they do not have that void inside them.
 
“It’s up to us to spend time with them,” he said. “To pay more attention to them. To show them more love and they learn to love each other and they learn to love one another and they grow up knowing what it is to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes and to view the world in somebody else’s eyes.
 
“We must also understand that when a child opens fire on other children, there’s a hole in his heart that no government can fill,” he said.
 
Obama wasn’t just referring to the massacres like the one in Colorado last week that grip the nation regularly but urban violence that regularly plagues city streets.
 
“Our hearts break for the victims of the massacre in Aurora,” he said. “We pray for those who were lost and we pray for those who loved them. We pray for those who are recovering with courage and with hope.
 
“And we also pray for those who succumb to the less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities in so many cities across the country every single day,” he said. "We can’t forget about that. For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, here in New Orleans,” he said. “For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland."