President Obama took his first trip outside Washington on Monday to promote his far-reaching plan to curb the nation’s gun violence, meeting with law enforcement leaders in Minneapolis, which has dramatically reduced gun violence in recent years.
Obama visited the Minneapolis Police Department’s Special Operations Center, where he delivered remarks about what the White House calls his “comprehensive set of common-sense ideas to reduce gun violence.”
"Universal background checks are almost universally supported," Obama said, "by gun owners." He asked people in the audience to keep pressure up on their representatives in Congress to do something about gun violence. "Tell them now is the time for action. That we're not going to wait until the next Newtown. The next Aurora."
The president also met with the area’s elected leaders to highlight Minneapolis, a city that the White House says already has taken “important steps to reduce gun violence and foster a conversation in the community about what further action is needed.”
Obama has proposed universal background checks for all gun buyers, which is considered the most likely of his legislative proposals to win bipartisan support in Congress. He also has called for stricter laws against gun trafficking, and press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Obama remains committed to a ban on assault weapons, although the ban is considered the most difficult to pass.
Minneapolis, once known as “Murder-apolis,” has made significant progress over the past few years in reducing gun violence after its homicide rate rivaled New York City’s in the 1990s, during the crack and gang wars, according to a report in USA Today.
Last week, Obama met at the White House with law enforcement leaders from around the country -- including Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Hennepin County (Minn.) Sheriff Richard Stanek -- to urge them to help him build support in Congress to pass his proposals to toughen gun laws.
The president told the law enforcement leaders that they are “where the rubber hits the road” and represent the most important group in the contentious debate over gun laws.
“Hopefully, if law enforcement officials who are dealing with this stuff every single day can come to some consensus in terms of steps that we need to take, Congress is going to be paying attention to them, and we’ll be able to make progress,” Obama said at last week’s meeting.