Obama calls for middle ground on gun control

McClatchy Newspapers


President Barack Obama appealed to Americans to set aside “the people who take absolute positions” on gun issues and “put ourselves in the other person’s shoes,” as he appealed for compromise to revive flagging hopes for new gun-control measures.

Urban residents who fear gun crime need to listen to those in rural areas who have grown up with guns as a positive part of their lives, Obama said. But at the same time, gun owners need to “understand what it feels like for that mom whose son was randomly shot.”

“We’ve got to get past some of the rhetoric,” Obama said, that “breaks down trust and is so over the top that it just shuts down all discussion.”

Negotiations in the Senate over gun-control measures backed by Obama have stalled over expanded background checks for gun purchases. Opponents of background checks say they fear that if the law requires individuals to document the sale of most firearms, those receipts eventually could form the basis of a national system to register gun owners. Supporters repeatedly have denied that would happen.

As the talks drag on, administration officials worry that their efforts are losing momentum. Some polls that showed public support for new gun measures rising after last year’s mass shootings now have shown declines.

In an effort to give new impetus to the campaign, Obama flew here and plans to speak next week in Connecticut, where the shootings of schoolchildren and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School still are a painfully fresh memory.

Colorado, too, was the scene last year of a highly publicized mass shooting, in which 12 people were killed and 58 injured at a movie theater in the suburb of Aurora. In response, the state Legislature recently adopted and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed gun- control legislation similar to some of Obama’s proposals.

Speaking after he and Attorney General Eric Holder met privately with families of some of the Aurora victims, Obama held Colorado up as an example of a gun-loving state that still embraces “common sense” curbs on firearm and ammunition purchases.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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