At town hall, Obama argues for tighter gun control

FAIRFAX, Va. -- U.S. President Barack Obama tore into the National Rifle Association on Thursday as he sought support for his actions on gun control, accusing the powerful lobby group of peddling an "imaginary fiction" that he said has distorted the national debate about gun violence.

See Full Article

In a prime-time, televised town hall meeting, Obama defended his support for the constitutional right to gun ownership while arguing it was consistent with his efforts to curb violence and mass shootings. He said the NRA was refusing to acknowledge the government's responsibility to make legal products safer, citing seatbelts and child-proof medicine bottles as examples.

"The NRA has convinced many of its members that somebody's going to come grab your guns," Obama said, describing it as a ploy to drive up sales of guns. "If you listen to the rhetoric, it is so over the top, and so overheated."

Obama said he's always been willing to meet with the NRA to discuss gun policies -- if they're willing to address the facts truthfully. He said the NRA was invited to the town hall but declined to participate. Several NRA members were in the audience for the town hall, which was organized and hosted by CNN.

"There's a reason why the NRA's not here. They're just down the street," Obama said, referring to the group's nearby headquarters in suburban Virginia. "Since this is a main reason they exist, you'd think that they'd be prepared to have a debate with the president."

The White House has sought to portray the NRA, the nation's largest gun group, as possessing a disproportionate influence over lawmakers that has prevented new gun laws despite polls that show broad U.S. support for measures like universal background checks. Last year, following a series of mass shootings, Obama pledged to "politicize" the issue in an attempt to level the playing field for gun control supporters.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said ahead of the event that the group saw "no reason to participate in a public relations spectacle orchestrated by the White House." Still, the group pushed back on Obama in real time with a stream of posts on Twitter.

"It's true: None of the president's orders would have stopped any of the recent mass shootings," the group wrote, appending the hashtag .GunsInAmerica.

Obama's broadside against the NRA came two days after unveiling a package of executive actions aimed at keeping guns from people who shouldn't have them. The centerpiece is new federal guidance that seeks to clarify who is "in the business" of selling firearms, triggering a requirement to get a license and conduct background checks on all prospective buyers.

The plan has drawn intense criticism from gun rights groups that have accused the president of trampling on the Second Amendment and railroading Congress by taking action on his own without new laws. Just after his 2012 re-election, Obama pushed hard for a bipartisan gun control bill that collapsed in the Senate, ending any realistic prospects for a legislative solution in the near term.

Ahead of the town hall, Obama put political candidates on notice that he would refuse to support or campaign for anyone who "does not support common-sense gun reform" -- including Democrats.

All the candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination support stricter gun laws, so Obama's declaration in a New York Times op-ed isn't likely to have an impact on the race to replace him. Instead, it appeared aimed at Democratic congressional candidates from competitive districts who might want Obama's support on the campaign trail this year.

------

Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Kathleen Hennessey contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Dear Santa, 'help them agree': Girl, 9, seeks end to N.S. teachers' dispute

    Canada News CTV News
    Layla El-Azzi’s letter to Santa Claus wasn’t a wish list filled with items such as a new bike, or clothes or the latest toy even. In fact, it wasn’t a list at all. The nine-year-old girl had one simple request for Saint Nick this year – to end the dispute between Nova Scotia’s government and the province’s public school teachers. Source
  • Trump picks fast-food CEO as labour secretary

    World News CBC News
    U.S. president-elect Donald Trump named fast-food executive Andy Puzder to head the Department of Labor on Thursday, drawing criticism from labour advocates worried about his opposition to a higher minimum wage and government regulation of the workplace. Source
  • 'Just a fun thing': SFU swimmers explain their dip in the snow

    Canada News CTV News
    Members of the Simon Fraser University swim team shed their coats and kicked off their boots as they went “swimming” on a snow covered football field. Donning only speedos and goggles, the group of swimmers dove into the shin-deep snow – unusual for Burnaby, B.C. Source
  • U.S. regulators mull allowing in-flight phone calls via plane's Wi-Fi

    World News CBC News
    Airlines could let passengers make in-flight phone calls using Wi-Fi under a proposal from federal regulators. Flight attendants and others have complained that the calls could be disruptive. But the Department of Transportation said Thursday that it envisioned allowing the calls if airlines tell all customers about the policy when they buy their tickets. Source
  • Paris battles rat infestations

    World News CTV News
    PARIS - Both the rat and Nadine Mahe des Portes panicked when she inadvertently stepped on the rodent on her walk back from work through Paris. "I heard a terrible squeak," the property agent recalled with a shudder. Source
  • Rats! Paris fights back against rodent infestation

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- Both Nadine Mahe des Portes and the rat panicked when she inadvertently stepped on it on her walk back from work through Paris. "I heard a terrible squeak," the property agent recalled with a shudder. Source
  • Students rattled after thwarted plot to attack Toronto school

    Canada News CTV News
    An online threat against a Toronto high school was written by a student who attended classes with the same students police say he threatened to kill. Police say, on Tuesday morning, a 17-year-old male was arrested for allegedly plotting an attack against Oakwood C.I. Source
  • Separate bombings kill 10 in Baghdad

    World News CTV News
    FILE -- In this Oct, 22, 2016 file photo, Iraqi security forces inspect one of the damaged buildings after deadly clashes between Iraqi security forces and members of the Islamic state in the city of Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq. Source
  • South Korean president is impeached in stunning fall [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — South Korean lawmakers on Friday impeached President Park Geun-hye, a stunning and swift fall for the country’s first female leader amid protests that drew millions into the streets in united fury. After the vote, parliamentary officials hand-delivered formal documents to the presidential Blue House that stripped Park of her power and allowed the country’s No. Source
  • Hundreds reportedly missing after fleeing Aleppo

    World News CBC News
    Hundreds of civilians streamed out of eastern Aleppo by foot on Friday as Syrian troops and allied forces waged a relentless campaign to drive rebels from their rapidly crumbling enclave. Russia announced Thursday that the Syrian army was suspending combat operations to allow for the evacuation of civilians from besieged rebel-held districts, but residents and medics inside eastern Aleppo said there was no letup in the bombardment. Source