Obama meets with victims of violence in Minneapolis - KMSP-TV

Obama meets with victims of violence in Minneapolis

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

President Barack Obama's short stop in Minneapolis is already getting big headlines for the speech he made on gun violence, but he also took time to meet with victims of violence on Monday.

Obama's trip to the Twin Cities had all the trappings of a campaign stop in many ways as the president made his pitch on gun control.

"We don't have to agree on everything to agree it's time to do something," Obama said. "That's my message here today."

After his arrival, Obama held an hour-long roundtable discussion with community leaders -- and John Souter, who was seriously injured in the Accent Signage Systems shooting, was among them.

"It's been a struggle. Some days are better than others," Souter said. "If we don't have the moral courage to support the president of the United States, then shame on us."

Yet, the sticking point of the president's proposal appears to be the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. In Minneapolis, those weapons aren't a documented problem. Cheap and readily-available handguns are. That's something Marsha Mayes, who lost her son Terrell to a stray bullet, knows all too well.

"[Obama] asked who I was," Marsha Mayes recalled. "I told him I'm a 30-year-old mom. I didn't come from Chicago to come here to lose my child."

It may not be an accident that Obama spent less time talking about assault weapons and more time focusing on the universal background checks, which enjoy broad support among Americans. Recent polls show 92 percent approve of such a system.

In fact, just three blocks away from where Obama was speaking, a Billy Bison's homemade sign proclaimed "Respect our Constitution." He told FOX 9 News he is a card-carrying member of the NRA -- but he does support universal background checks even though the NRA does not.

"The way I see negotiations, you have to start somewhere," Bison said.

Obama had been looking to showcase a success story with his speech, and said he found it in Minneapolis. He also said

"You've launched a series of youth initiatives that have reduced the number of young people injured by guns by 40 percent," he stated.

It didn't happen overnight, but from the days when the city was dubbed Murderapolis, the trend lines have been going down. Even so, north Minneapolis still has one of the highest concentrations of shots-fired calls.

"A lot of our problem is homegrown, and I don't think we have an adequate answer about who puts guns in the hands of our kids," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said.

Obama added that meeting the victims of gun violence takes the issue far beyond politics. Now, it's personal.

"It changes you," he said. "You're not the same afterwards."

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