Obama urges help of police

Posted: January 29, 2013

WASHINGTON - President Obama met Monday with law enforcement leaders, including officials from four communities where mass shootings took place recently, and urged them to help him build support in Congress to pass his proposals to toughen gun laws.

Obama asserted that law enforcement leaders were the most important group in the fraught and emotional gun debate - "they are where the rubber hits the road," he said - and that a consensus among police chiefs and sheriffs could influence wavering lawmakers.

"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," Obama said, "Congress is going to be paying attention to them, and we'll be able to make progress."

Vice President Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano joined Obama and 13 police chiefs and sheriffs at the White House meeting.

Obama urged passage of universal background checks for all gun buyers, which administration officials have said was his top priority and was considered the most likely of his legislative proposals to win bipartisan support.

The president also called Monday on Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips, making clear those measures remained a priority after Biden did not highlight them Friday at a gun-violence roundtable in Richmond.

"We recognize that this is an issue that elicits a lot of passion all across the country," Obama said, "and Joe and my cabinet members who have been involved in this have been on a listening session over the last several months."

Later, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama and Biden would continue meeting with different interest groups.

"This reflects the president's commitment to engage with all stakeholders on this important issue," Carney said.

In the law enforcement meeting, Obama noted that his proposals, which also included 23 executive actions announced this month, were designed to reduce not only mass shootings, but also everyday violence.

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