Obama seeks urgency in push for gun laws

2013-02-05 09:00
US President Barack Obama speaks before a crowd of local leaders and law enforcement officials at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Centre. (Ben Garvin, Getty Images/AFP)

US President Barack Obama speaks before a crowd of local leaders and law enforcement officials at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Centre. (Ben Garvin, Getty Images/AFP)

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Minneapolis - President Barack Obama on Monday heaped pressure on Congress for action "soon" on curbing gun violence, flanked by uniformed police officers he said should not be outgunned on US streets.

In his most high profile intervention in the guns debate since unveiling a package of executive actions and recommendations for new laws last month, Obama flew to Minneapolis, a city that has pioneered efforts to stem gun violence.

Obama made a pragmatic case for legislation on the contentious issue, arguing that just because political leaders could not save every life, they should at least try to save some victims of rampant gun crime.

And characteristically, Obama betrayed impatience with the pace of work in Congress, more than six weeks after the massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school again electrified the gun debate.

"There has been a lot of talk, a lot of conversation, a lot of publicity - but we haven't actually taken concrete steps yet," Obama said, at an event which began to make good on a White House promise to campaign hard on the guns effort.

"We don't have to agree on everything to agree it is time to do something." The president specifically tried to build support for his own plans, including enhanced background checks for gun owners and bids to close loopholes to ensure guns do not get into the hands of the mentally ill.

Watering down rights

Obama also touted his call for the renewal of the ban on military-style assault rifles and argued that it was time to restrict the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips that can fire off many rounds in seconds.

"There won't be perfect solutions. We're not going to save every life. But we can make a difference," Obama said.

The president's plans are vigorously opposed by many Republicans, who believe he is watering down the constitutional right to bear arms, and by the gun lobby headed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA).

Some Democrats facing tough re-election races in rural states, where hunting and gun culture is a dominant cultural force, also oppose Obama's proposals.

The NRA meanwhile has called for armed guards in all US schools.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  gun control
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