NEW ORLEANS – President Obama touched the sensitive issue of guns here on Wednesday, pivoting off last week’s Colorado movie theater shootings to call for a “consensus around violence reduction” in the country.
With the last public event of a four-day trip that started with a visit to the Aurora, Colo., hospital where almost two dozen victims were brought after the shootings, Obama threw his weight behind measures to strengthen background checks and other efforts to keep weapons out of the hands of mentally-ill people.
“These steps shouldn’t be controversial, they should be common sense,” Obama told the National Urban League conference.
Obama’s remarks in the Big Easy about guns were the most extensive of his term, going farther than what he said after the 2011 shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and a dozen others. White House aides have acknowledged new gun laws are still politically impossible in the current election-year climate, but Obama’s comments suggest he’s at least willing to talk about the issue.
“I – like most Americans – believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms,” Obama said. “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.