Gun Control: Why Obama Played It Safe in Remarks on Violence in Cities

By Feldmann, Linda | The Christian Science Monitor, July 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

Gun Control: Why Obama Played It Safe in Remarks on Violence in Cities


Feldmann, Linda, The Christian Science Monitor


In a speech Wednesday to the National Urban League, President Obama made his first extended remarks on gun violence since the Colorado shooting spree that killed 12. Both the president and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, have played it safe in their comments on gun control.

Six days after the shooting spree in Colorado that killed 12 people, President Obama made his first extended remarks on gun violence.

Speaking Wednesday night to a gathering of the National Urban League in New Orleans, Mr. Obama extended his focus beyond the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and into the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, where guns take the lives of young people daily.

In a bow to political reality, Obama didn't call for any new laws. Instead, he highlighted measures already taken that don't require legislation, such as background checks for the purchase of firearms that are now "more thorough." What he didn't say was that the background check on the alleged Aurora shooter, James Holmes, turned up nothing to deny him his weapons. All of his firearms were obtained legally.

As has become customary for Obama in statements on gun violence, he made a bow to the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and the "cherished national heritage" of which hunting and shooting are a part.

But, he said, "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."

Since becoming president, Obama has been walking a fine line on guns. Even as he calls for better enforcement of existing laws, and mourns the victims of gun violence, he has also expanded gun rights. In 2009, for example, he signed legislation that allows the carrying of concealed weapons in national parks and another bill that allows people to carry guns in their checked bags on Amtrak trains.

The unspoken presence in all the president's actions and statements is the gun lobby and its most powerful player, the National Rifle Association (NRA).

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