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Obama Urges End to Rhetoric Blocking Gun Control Progress

Concerned about eroding momentum for stronger gun control laws, President Barack Obama used remarks in a state shaken by mass shootings to press his call for congressional action.

Related video report by Kent Klein
Obama Pushes For Stronger Gun Lawsi
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April 04, 2013 7:07 PM
President Barack Obama is taking a two-day Western trip, to rally support for tougher U.S. gun laws. As VOA’s Kent Klein reports from the White House, some polls show that the cause has been losing momentum.
Coloradans live with the memory of two of the nation's worst mass shootings:  the 12 people killed last year when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater in the town of Aurora, and 13 killed in 1999 at Columbine High School.

The state's Democratic-controlled legislature passed strong gun laws, requiring background checks for all gun purchases and limiting the capacity of ammunition clips.

At the Denver Police Academy, Obama met with police and local leaders, and families of victims in the Aurora and Columbine massacres.

Obama also mentioned the massacre of 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut, last December.  He said Congress should follow Colorado's example in passing stronger gun control laws.

"Every day that we wait to do something about it, even more are stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun. The good news is that Colorado has already chosen to do something about it," Obama said.

Obama wants Congress to approve universal background checks for gun purchases, reinstate a ban on military-style assault weapons, and limit the size of ammunition clips.

He urged Republicans in the U.S. Senate not to block consideration of Democrat-crafted legislation.  Debate could come as early as next week.

The White House and gun control advocates are concerned that political momentum has slowed.

Obama urged an end to rhetoric he said is blocking honest discussion about gun violence, and addressed the notion he said some Americans have that he is attacking their constitutional right to gun ownership.

"There doesn’t have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment rights," Obama said.

Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer says Obama is on the right side of the gun control issue, while Republicans risk political damage if they block legislation.

"Deciding that you are going to block common sense gun legislation supported by 90 percent of the country, and large numbers and majorities of gun owners, is not going to help your situation," Pfeiffer said.

President Obama continues his efforts to generate more public pressure for stronger gun control laws with a visit next Monday to Hartford, Connecticut.

Wednesday, Connecticut's legislature was poised to join Colorado and New York state in passing strong gun control legislation.

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