President Obama will travel to Minneapolis next week as part of his continuing efforts to mobilize public support around his broad gun-control agenda.
A White House official said Obama will meet with local elected officials and law enforcement officials Monday to study steps Minneapolis has taken to reduce gun violence. The president also plans to tout his national proposals, which include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.Obama's visit to Minnesota comes as Congress weighs his proposals, some of which have met resistance not only from Republicans but also from some Democratic lawmakers.
Minneapolis has been in the spotlight in the gun debate in recent years. The city, after a spike in violent crime involving young people, launched a series of youth violence initiatives in recent years that have reduced the number of shooting incidents. The area's law enforcement leaders have been leading proponents of stronger background checks for gun buyers. And earlier in January, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak (D) hosted a regional gun policy summit.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek were among the law enforcement leaders who met with Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House on Monday.
Stanek said in an interview following Monday's meeting that he told Obama that strengthening the background checks system should be his top priority and that the lack of up-to-date information in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System was "America's dirty little secret."
Stanek said he and other law enforcement leaders urged Obama to be more clear with the American people about his support for the Second Amendment right to bear arms to help assuage the concerns of some gun owners.
"He said he supports the Second Amendment, but we candidly told him he needs to do a better job of articulating that to the American public because there are some sheriffs in the country who don’t believe that and have concerns about overreaching federal powers and authority," Stanek said.