News Column

President Obama Seeks Gun Control Support

April 4, 2013
President Barack Obama

President Obama is looking to rally gun-control backers in Washington by trumpeting the success of allies in states such as Colorado and Connecticut.

Facing a tough congressional fight in the coming weeks, Obama praised a new set of gun laws in Colorado on Wednesday and said they are in line with what he wants to do nationally.

"I've come to Denver today in particular because Colorado is proving a model of what's possible," Obama said during a visit to the Denver Police Academy.

The president, who has a similar trip to Connecticut planned next week, said Colorado is showing that it's possible to enact "tougher background checks that won't infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners, but will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people."

The president's trip came as Congress prepares to return from its Easter recess next week, with gun control on the Senate agenda.

In the wake of a series of mass shootings -- particularly the December attack that killed 20 schoolchildren in Connecticut -- Obama and aides are pushing legislation that includes improved background checks for gun buyers, a renewed assault weapons ban and restrictions on the capacities of ammunition clips. Obama is also proposing programs to improve school safety and mental health treatment.

"The president wants to sign the strongest gun bill he can," White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said.

Congressional Republicans and some Democrats object to many of the proposals, citing Second Amendment rights to gun ownership.

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said the Democratic-run Legislature in Colorado "rammed" through a series of bills, but that won't happen in Washington because Republicans hold the majority in the House of Representatives. "In holding Colorado up as a model for passing tough new gun control laws, President Obama is pursuing a model that will fail in Washington," Lamborn said.

The Denver speech began a brief western swing for Obama, including a trip to San Francisco for a pair of fundraisers for Democratic congressional candidates.

Colorado has been the site of two major major mass shootings over the past 15 years, at Columbine High School in 1999 and at a movie theater in Aurora in July. Legislators recently approved a new background check system and voted to limit the size of ammunition clips to 15 bullets.

The Senate debate on a gun bill could begin as early as next week. In his Denver remarks, Obama criticized possible plans to delay or obstruct a vote on some provisions, saying the victims of mass shootings deserve to have at least an up-or-down vote.

He said he respects the Second Amendment, that none of his proposals involve gun registration or confiscation, and that "well-organized, well-financed" critics are ginning up fears of what he wants to do.

Next week, Obama is also likely to laud gun-control legislative efforts in Connecticut when he speaks Monday at the University of Hartford. The school is about 50 miles from Newtown, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Contributing: Jackie Kucinich

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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