NEW ORLEANS - In his most extensive remarks on gun control since the tragedy in Tucson, President Obama tonight renewed his push to reduce gun violence, saying "AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals."
Citing the massacre in Colorado and the "less publicized acts of violence" that plague the nation's cities, the president told the National Urban League that steps to reduce gun violence "should not be controversial, they should be common sense."
Following an "extraordinary heartbreaking tragedy" like the deadly shooting in Aurora, Colo., Obama said there is "always an outcry immediately after for action," but that "too often those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere."
"Steps to reduce violence have been met with opposition in Congress. This has been true for some time, particularly when it touches on the issue of guns," he said.
The president made clear his support for Second Amendment rights, saying "hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage."
"I also believe a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities," he said.
While the president did not call for any new policy, he did underscore the need for enhanced background checks and restrictions to keep mentally unbalanced individuals from acquiring guns.
Going forward, Obama vowed to work with members of both parties to "arrive at a consensus around violence reduction, not just of gun violence, but violence at every level."