Obama takes on gun reform in cable news town hall

When Politicians Weep: Obama's Gun Speech Spotlights Lawmakers' Tears
When Politicians Weep: Obama's Gun Speech Spotlights Lawmakers' Tears

President Barack Obama took on the issue of gun reform again at a town hall meeting on CNN Thursday evening, saying that while he respected the Second Amendment the gun sales need to be regulated to ensure the safety of Americans.

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"There's nothing else in our lives that we can purchase, where we don't try to make it a little safer if we can," Obama said Thursday night at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

The president said other industries, including automakers, medicine companies and makers of children's toys have increased regulations and made improvements to make consumers safer.

Images from the town hall:

"The notion that we would not apply the same basic principals to gun ownership as we do to everything else that we own just to try to make them safer — or the notion that anything we do to try to make them safer is somehow a plot to try to take away guns — that contradicts what we do to create a better life for Americans in every other are of our lives."

Obama also noted that first lady Michelle Obama told him she herself would want a shotgun or a rifle for protection if she lived in an isolated area. He said: "She was absolutely right."

But he said that his series of executive actions announced this week were not meant to infringe law-abiding Americans from owning guns. The intent, he said, was instead "to keep guns out of the hands of those who would try to do others harm or try to do themselves harm."

"I think it's really important for us not to suggest that if we can't solve every crime, we shouldn't try to solve any crimes," Obama said.

Obama also balked hard at the idea that there was a "secret" long-term goal to take all guns away from Americans.

"The goal here is just to make progress," he said.

The 8 p.m. ET town hall coincided with the release of an op-ed in The New York Times, just an hour earlier, where the president called gun violence in the United States an "epidemic."

"The epidemic of gun violence in our country is a crisis," Obama wrote in the op-ed.

Obama also said he would not endorse any candidate who did not support gun control measures.

"I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform," he wrote. "And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve."

In the op-ed, Obama called for ordinary citizens to call on lawmakers to hold the gun industry accountable, and lamented that increased gun reform would not happen during this Congress.

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On Tuesday in a powerful 30-minute, and at times, tear-filled address to the nation Obama unveiled a series of executive actions aimed at preventing more mass killings. The actions are designed to slow the flood of firearms sales and keep weapons out of the hands of potential gunmen.

Obama has increasingly felt frustrated and stymied by congressional inaction on gun policy reform after 20 first-graders and six staffers were murdered three years ago by a gunman with an assault rifle at the grade school in Newton, Connecticut.

"That was the worst day of my presidency, and it's not something that I want to see repeated," President Obama said in December 2012, two weeks after Newtown shooting.

After other mass shootings in Colorado, Arizona, Texas and South Carolina, Obama repeated his call for beefing up gun control and banning assault weapons — only to be rebuffed by Congress and the NRA.

After last year's mass shooting at an Oregon college that left 10 dead, a visibly angry and frustrated Obama complained "we have become numb to this." Last month, in only his third address to the nation from the Oval Office, Obama once again decried gun violence.

In the meantime, the battle over gun policy has largely moved to the state level.

Democrats in blue states, including California, Delaware and Oregon, have passed measures since Sandy Hook to expand background checks and bar the carrying of concealed weapons on college campuses. Governors in conservative-leaning states, meanwhile, have expanded gun rights.

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