President Obama tonight said he's interested in seeing an assault weapons ban reintroduced, breaking his silence on the legislation, which has persisted in spite of at least five mass shootings during his term.
At the end of a long answer to the question, "What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?" Obama said this:
"My belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws we've already got, make sure that we're keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We've done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we've got more to do when it comes to enforcement.
"But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don't belong on our streets. And so what I'm trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there's an awful lot of violence and they're not using AK-47s. They're using cheap hand guns."
As a candidate in 2008, Obama campaigned on permanent reinstatement of the expired assault weapons ban, and Attorney General Eric Holder in 2009 indicated that the administration would lobby for a bill. But that never materialized and the White House has largely avoided talking about it.
In August, after the Sikh Temple shooting, Jay Carney said, "He does support renewing the assault weapons ban."
But tonight is the first time during his first term that the sentiment has come from the president's mouth.