Renewed gun debate puts Obama, Romney on awkward terrain
DENVER – When he spoke in Colorado after visiting with victims two days after the mass shooting at Aurora’s Century 16 Cinemas, President Barack Obama didn’t say anything controversial — anything at all, really — about guns.
But on Wednesday in New Orleans, speaking to a mostly African-American audience at the National Urban League convention, Obama called for the country to actually do something about gun violence and seemed to advocate for the renewal of a ban on assault weapons.
Obama went out of his way to say that he believes in the Second Amendment’s protection of gun rights and that that hunting and shooting are part of a “cherished national tradition.”
“I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that an AK-47 belongs in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals,” Obama said. “That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.”
In London, meanwhile, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney echoed Obama’s initial view that stricter gun laws wouldn’t have been enough to prevent suspected gunman James Holmes from carrying out his shooting spree.
But, in an interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, Romney appeared to be confused about the facts of Holmes’s case — specifically, that Holmes purchased his four guns, some 6,000 rounds of ammunition and a head-to-toe suit of tactical armor legally.
“This person shouldn’t have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices, and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already,” Romney told Williams. “But he had them. And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won’t.”
Obama said every heartbreaking tragedy creates an outcry for action.
“Too often those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere,” he said.
While he called for efforts to keep criminals and fugitives and mentally unbalanced individuals from buying weapons, Obama also said he was undertaking efforts without Congress to create prevention and intervention programs that “steer young people away from a life of gang violence toward the safety and promise of classroom.”
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