Obama: Consensus for more checks for gun buyers
WASHINGTON (AP/ABC7) - President Barack Obama emphasized the need for more background checks for gun buyers in his State of the Union address, saying that overwhelming majorities of Americans favor the proposal as a way to keep firearms from criminals.
Obama said Tuesday night that senators from both parties are working on legislation to prevent people from legally buying guns and then giving them to criminals.
He said police chiefs want lawmakers to ban "weapons of war" and magazines carrying large amounts of ammunition so law enforcement officers won't be outgunned.
The president proposed all those ideas after the December killings of 20 first-graders in Connecticut. But expanded background checks is the only one he described as having vast support - a description that matches public polling and reflects congressional sentiment too.
In the audience were the faces made famous by unthinkable acts of violence. Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Kaitlyn Roig and Omar Samaha, who lost his sister, Reema, during the deadly rampage at Virginia Tech.
Samaha said, "We all think about our loved ones all the time, and in a situation like this where the president will be addressing it directly, I'll be thinking about her a lot."
It's been a long six years since he said goodbye to his younger sister. Since then, he's lobbied heavily for stronger background checks and getting guns off school grounds. They were topics he was hoping to hear the president touch on and he did.
"These proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun," Obama said during his address.
And since Newtown, the debate over stronger gun laws has soared, with the focus turning to mental health, high capacity ammunition clips and assault rifles.
But in the midst of the House Chambers stocked with some 40 supports of gun control reform sat one of the measures most outspoken opponents - rocker and gun rights activist Ted Nugent.
Nugent said his message was one of "freedom. Freedom and independence, rugged individualism and leave us alone."
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