Obama Makes a Rocky Mountain High Push for Gun Control

The president calls for congressional action on stricter background checks and assault weapons ban.

Posted: 04/03/2013 06:55 PM EDT

The National Rifle Association has proven itself to be a tough adversary to President Obama and the push for what he calls "common sense" gun control measures. So as the Senate prepares to begin debate on the issue next week, the president is taking his case to the states to build support.

On Wednesday the president traveled to Denver, where he highlighted the state, which passed bipartisan gun control legislation last month, as a model for "what's possible." Obama argued that "there doesn't have to be a conflict" between enacting gun controls and respecting gun owners' rights.

"We've seen enacted tougher background checks that won't infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners but will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," Obama said in remarks delivered at the Denver Police Academy.

The president stressed the need for anyone who wants to buy a gun to undergo a background check. While the current system has kept more than 2 million people who could do harm from buying a gun, there are loopholes that allow criminals and others who shouldn't have guns to avoid being checked out, he said, adding that it's "just common sense" that buyers should be required to prove they're not criminals or legally prohibited from purchasing firearms.

"And by the way, if you're selling a gun, wouldn't you want to know who you're selling it to?" the president asked. "Wouldn't you want in our conscience to know that the person you're selling to isn't going to commit a crime?"

Obama also pushed for an assault weapons ban, although it is widely viewed as already DOA on Capitol Hill.

"The type of assault rifle used in Aurora, for example, when paired with a high-capacity magazine, has one purpose: to pump out as many bullets as possible as fast as possible. It's what allowed that gunman to shoot 70 people and kill 12 in a matter of a few minutes," he said. "I don't believe that weapons designed for theaters of war have a place in movie theaters."

The president said that although Americans support background checks and that plans by some lawmakers to "use procedural stunts to prevent or delay votes" on reforms signals that they believe "your opinion doesn't matter." He also urged those Americans push their congressional lawmakers into action.

"If these reforms keep one person from murdering dozens of innocent children or worshipers or movie-goers in a span of minutes, isn't it worth fighting for? … That's why I'm going to keep on working" Obama said, adding that he'll need voters' help.

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(Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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