As the debate over guns after Newtown moves into the often bitterly partisan halls of Congress, President Obama flew Monday to the Midwest to remind the country there’s more unity on gun control than the rancorous debate in the nation’s capital might suggest.
“The experience the people have of guns in an urban neighborhood might not be the same as in a rural community. But we know for example from polling that universal background checks are universally supported by gun owners … an overwhelming majority of gun owners think that’s a good idea,” Obama said in a speech at the Minneapolis Police Department. “So if we’ve got a lobbyist in Washington claiming to speak for gun owners saying something different we need to go to the source and reach route to people directly.”
The fears raised by groups like the National Rifle Association — which has warned those seeking universal background checks are doing so as a first step toward confiscating firearms from their lawful owners — are clouding the issue, Obama said.
“We can’t allow those filters to get in the way of common sense,” he said, with rows of Minnesota law enforcement lined up behind him. As he has through the whole debate following the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, Obama asked the American people to call up their members of Congress and dispel myths permeating from some on the conservative side.
“There is no legislation being proposed to subvert the Second Amendment. Tell them specifically what we are talking about. Things that the majority of Americans when they are asked what they support,” Obama said. “And tell them now is the time for action.”
For his own part, Obama again called for a new assault weapons ban (which has very little chance of happening in Congress) as well as universal background checks for firearms purchases and a ban on high-capacity magazines. But the center message of Obama’s Minneapolis speech was a call to action — and his contention that despite the strum und drang in Washington, what the White House and other gun control advocates are calling for just isn’t all that controversial.