Obama gun laws: President pushes gun control plan in Minneapolis - KMSP-TV

OBAMA GUN PLAN: ‘We don’t have to agree on everything to agree it’s time to do something’

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

President Obama was in Minneapolis on Monday to discuss his gun control plan with law enforcement officials and address the nation on the administration's "common sense ideas" to reduce gun violence.

The president delivered his remarks at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center.

"We don't have to agree on everything to agree it's time to do something," Obama said. "If there's just one life we can save, we have an obligation to try."

The White House said Obama chose Minneapolis because the city "has taken important steps to reduce gun violence and foster a conversation in the community about what further action is needed."

As Obama landed, his office tweeted out his four-part gun plan, which calls for:

  1. Expanding background checks on gun purchases
  2. Banning military-style assault weapons
  3. Making schools safer
  4. Increasing mental health services

The president was introduced by Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who mentioned the Accent Signage workplace shooting victims and young murder victims Terrell Mayes and Nizzel George in her opening remarks.

"There is not one simple solution to ending gun violence, but all solutions are rooted in partnership," Harteau said. "Fortunately, one of our greatest partners in the fight is President Obama, who supports law enforcement, understands the complexity of gun violence, and has the courage to seek out and implement solutions."

Obama entered a room packed with applauding officers and deputies, and he began by praising the law enforcement leaders for their efforts to reduce youth gun violence.

"You launched a series of youth initiatives and reduced the number of young people injured by guns by 40 percent -- 40 percent!" Obama said. "When it comes to protecting our kids from gun violence, you've shown that progress is possible."

Before his speech, Obama met one-on-one with both law enforcement leaders and the victims of gun crimes, including Mayes' mother and Sami Rahamim, whose father was killed in the Accent Signage shooting.

"This is huge," Rahamim said. "Gun violence, or gun control, is a very divisive issue in this state."

Rahamim added that he thinks the president's visit -- and his call for people to let their representatives know their stance -- will result in action.

"There won't be perfect solutions, we won't save every life, but we can make a difference," Obama said in his speech.

Starting on Tuesday, Minnesota lawmakers will begin discussing a total of 15 gun safety bills at the Capitol. Six will be introduced in House committee on Tuesday alone.

Some of the bills call for bans on high capacity ammunition magazines, tougher background checks for gun buyers and more restrictions on gun show sales.

"Our law enforcement officers should never be out-gunned on the streets," Obama said, directly addressing high-capacity ammunition.

On a more local level, the city of Minneapolis spent $800,000 on guns and ammunition in the last few years, and Mayor R.T. Rybak says that purchasing power gives the city influence with gun manufacturers who don't meet the city's standards of safety.

"President Obama gave a great speech today, but the most important thing he did was listen -- for nearly an hour -- to people who, day after day, are building peace on our streets. He knows that they, and all Americans, can help everyone in Washington understand that we need common-sense laws that make all of us safer," Rybak said.

Rybak said that collaboration has been key in finding solutions. In fact, the idea to use the city's financial clout in its gun purchases came from a recent summit with Midwest leaders, mayors and law enforcement officers about ways to reduce gun violence.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has also been closely involved in the discussions, and he said focusing on the problem of access does not violate the Second Amendment he strongly supports.

"Gun ownership isn't a privilege; it's a right guaranteed by the Constitution. We have an access problem -- people already prohibited by law from owning or buying a gun should never have access to firearms," Stanek said.

During his stop in Minneapolis, the president also made an appeal to concerned gun owners who believe the government is trying to take away their guns.

"There's no legislation proposed to eliminate all guns. There's no legislation proposed to subvert the second amendment," Obama said.

Stanek also emphasized the need to improve the current background check system to ensure court records containing information that would prohibit someone from purchasing a gun are entered into the system in a timely fashion nationwide.

In terms of improving mental care, Stanek said making treatment more accessible could have a large impact in the county because of the 38,000 people booked into jail each year, about a third suffer from mental illness.

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