By Molly Peterson
Monday, March 14, 2011; A03
President Obama called for more effective background checks for gun sales after the January shooting rampage in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The Tucson shootings, and "perhaps another 2,000" gun deaths in the United States since then, show a need for consensus on how to prevent more gun violence, Obama said in an op-ed column published Sunday in the Arizona Daily Star. The nation needs "an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks," he said.
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was charged March 4 with killing six people Jan. 8 outside a shopping center where Giffords (D-Ariz.) was meeting constituents.
His indictment followed an earlier one in which he was charged with the attempted assassination of Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head, and the attempted murder of two of her aides. Loughner pleaded not guilty to those charges on Jan. 24.
"A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun," Obama said of Loughner.
Obama said he believes the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to bear arms, and said he thinks most U.S. gun owners are "highly responsible." Still, "sound and effective steps" are needed to keep "irresponsible, lawbreaking" people from buying guns, he said.
A law enacted four years ago to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System hasn't been properly implemented because states often provide "incomplete and inadequate" data, Obama said. The nation should reward states that provide the best data, and "make the system faster and nimbler," he said.
- Bloomberg News