Obama meets with police chiefs, sheriffs to talk guns

Obama meets with police chiefs, sheriffs to talk guns
Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:54pm

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with police chiefs and sheriffs from major cities about gun violence on Monday, keeping the issue in the spotlight as the administration pushes for stricter firearm regulations.

"No group is more important for us to listen to than our law enforcement officials," Obama said. "They're where our rubber hits the road."

The president held the private event one day before he travels to Las Vegas to highlight his push for immigration reform, demonstrating the administration's plan to press multiple policy goals simultaneously.

After weeks of meetings with various stakeholders in the gun control debate, Obama and Biden announced earlier this month multiple legislative proposals aimed at curbing gun violence and 23 executive actions on guns and related mental health issues the president can take without congressional approval.

The legislative proposals include an assault weapons ban, a limit of 10 rounds per magazine and universal background checks that include anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or gun show.

Monday's meeting in the Roosevelt Room included representatives from the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Major County Sheriffs Association. Police chiefs of Aurora, Colorado, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Newtown, Connecticut - all cities that experienced mass shootings last year - were in attendance.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were also at the meeting.

"I'm looking forward to a robust conversation," Obama said shortly before the meeting started. "I know that this is not a shy group, mainly because they're dealing with life or death situations every day."

"If law enforcement officials who are dealing with this stuff every single day can come to some basic consensus in terms of steps we need to take, Congress is going to be paying attention to them and we'll be able to make progress," the president added.

Meanwhile, the police chief of the nation's largest city offered his own insight on the issue Sunday. Ray Kelly, commissioner of the New York City Police Department, said on CBS that while he agrees with the assault weapons ban, he believes there's a larger issue at stake.

"In most urban centers of America, the problem really is concealable handguns," he said, adding that only two percent of people arrested for guns in the last two years had assault weapons. "We don't want (assault weapons) on the streets. Make no mistake about it, but the problem is the handgun."

CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.

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