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

  • Explosions reported at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured. There were no immediate details of what happened during the concert by the American singer, but police advised the public to avoid the area around the Manchester Arena. Source
  • First World War replica bi-plane squadron to fly coast-to-coast

    Canada News CTV News
    Allan Snowie admits his goggles did “mist up” on his first pass over the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in a First World War replica bi-plane ahead of the recent 100th anniversary of the pivotal battle. Source
  • 'Number of confirmed fatalities' at Ariana Grande concert in U.K., say police

    World News CBC News
    Police say there have been a "number of confirmed fatalities" and injuries after an explosion at the Manchester Arena in northern England, where U.S. pop star Ariana Grande was giving a concert. Police statement on incident at Manchester Arena pic.twitter.com/gaKASukx9a— @gmpolice Source
  • 'Confirmed fatalities' after serious incident at Ariana Grande show in U.K.

    World News CTV News
    Police in Manchester, U.K., say there are “a number of confirmed fatalities” after reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena, where American singer Ariana Grande performed Monday night. No details were immediately available, but people in the area have reported hearing loud bangs that sounded like explosions. Source
  • 8-year-old boy who died in Rushing River was from Winnipeg

    Canada News CBC News
    An eight-year-old boy who died while vacationing with his family in Rushing River Provincial Park over the holiday weekend was from Winnipeg. Ontario Provincial Police were called to the park, about 75 kilometres east of the Manitoba border, after the boy was reported missing around 9:45 p.m. Source
  • Dad of Times Square crash victim leaves note at her memorial

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The father of a Michigan tourist killed by an out-of-control driver in Times Square left a note at a memorial for his daughter, thanking New Yorkers for their support and saying her loss was a hole in his heart "that can never be filled. Source
  • Female inmate at Ontario jail dies after being found unresponsive in cell

    Canada News CBC News
    A woman who was found unresponsive in her cell at the South West Detention Centre just outside Windsor, Ont., has died. The woman was found by correctional staff who performed first aid until an ambulance arrived, according to Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services spokesperson Andrew Morrison. Source
  • Man set afire during Venezuela protest as death toll rises

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is accusing protesters of setting fire to a government supporter, saying what he calls "Nazi-fascist" elements are taking root inside the opposition's ranks and contributing to a dangerous spiral of violence in the two-month anti-government protest movement. Source
  • Hugo Chavez's childhood home burned by protesters: lawmaker

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Protesters set late President Hugo Chavez's childhood home in western Venezuela on fire Monday afternoon, an opposition lawmaker said, as protests against the nation's socialist government grew increasingly hostile. Demonstrators lit the house in the city of Barinas where Chavez spent his early years aflame along with several government buildings, including the regional office of the National Electoral Council, said Pedro Luis Castillo, a legislator who represents the…
  • Over 31 million people internally displaced in 2016: report

    World News CTV News
    Internally displaced civilians, who fled their homes during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State group, receive humanitarian aids at Amariyah Fallujah, Iraq, Saturday, June 25, 2016. (AP / Khalid Mohammed) Source