President Barack Obama took a surprisingly tough stance in favour of gun control last night, wading into the gun debate for the first time since last Friday’s mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
In a speech to the National Urban League in New Orleans, the President admitted that not enough has been done to reduce gun violence and to ensure that guns don’t end up in the hands of criminals. Although Obama offered no new policy proposals, he pledged to support “common sense” restrictions, including a new ban on assault weapons.
Here’s the relevant excerpt from the White House transcript (emphasis mine):
“I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals — that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common sense.”
Still, the President made little indication that he plans to push for new legislation, citing opposition in Congress as an obstacle to any further restrictions.
Watch the clip below, courtesy of MSNBC:
Meanwhile, Obama’s Republican opponent Mitt Romney came down on the other side of the debate Wednesday night, stating that although he passed an assault weapons ban as Governor of Massachusetts, he opposes a federal ban.
“I don’t happen to believe that America needs new gun laws,” Romney told NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams during an interview in London Wednesday night. “A lot of what this young man did was clearly against the law. But the fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening.”
“And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away,” Romney added later. “It won’t. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential, to improve the lots of the American people.”
Watch the full interview below:
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