Obama steps up gun control effort

WASHINGTON -- President Obama stepped up his public commitment to specific gun control measures Friday by asking a like-minded audience to rally around his efforts to pass them.

In a video address posted on the White House website Friday morning, Obama asked gun control supporters to help pass laws banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips and requiring background checks for all gun purchases.

The video message comes in response to an appeal on a White House website, where visitors can post their own petitions and urge others to add their signatures.


The day after the slayings at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school a week ago, a user posted a petition to “force the Obama administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns.” A current tally on the website indicates that almost 200,000 people have signed it.

Over the past week, the administration has begun to ratchet up the specificity of its commitment to gun control measures. Aides at first only acknowledged that Obama is a longtime supporter of renewing the federal ban on assault weapons, but Wednesday Obama called for passage of three specific measures.

On Friday, the president set out some of the arguments he will make in the coming weeks in support of passage.

“Like the majority of Americans, I believe that the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms,” Obama said. But “I am also betting that the majority -- the vast majority -- of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war.”

Congress should take steps that “protect our rights and protect our kids,” he said.

Later Friday morning, Obama is scheduled to observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Newtown shooting.

The shooting occurred shortly after school began last Friday morning.