DENVER - Ramping up pressure on lawmakers to reform the nation's gun laws, President Obama today made an appeal to common sense.
"There are good people on both sides of this thing, but we have to be able to put ourselves in the other person's shoes," the president said during a visit to Colorado, the state that has suffered two of the nation's worst mass shootings.
"Part of the reason it's so hard to get this done is because both sides of the debate sometimes don't listen to each other," he said. "The people who take absolute positions on these issues on both sides sometimes aren't willing to concede even an inch of ground."
As the Senate prepares to debate gun legislation next week, the president insisted there is "no conflict" between respecting the rights of gun owners and enacting reforms.
"There doesn't have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment rights," he told law enforcement officials, advocates and victims' families at the Denver Police Academy.
Speaking just four miles from the site of last year's mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., Obama lauded this purple state as a model for what's possible nationwide. Colorado has expanded background checks and restricted high-capacity magazine clips, despite the state's strong hunting tradition.
"Colorado has shown that practical progress is possible," Obama said.
The president's speech today was part of his broader push to maintain political momentum in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Obama is urging lawmakers to act on a set of "common-sense" proposals, including universal background checks for gun buyers. He is also calling on Congress, at the very least, to vote on an assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines.
"We knew from the beginning that change wouldn't be easy, and we know that there would be powerful voices that would do everything they could to run out the clock, change the subject, ignore the majority of the American people. We knew they'd try to make any progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration, or maybe people would just stop paying attention," he said. "The only way this time will be different is if the American people demand that this time it must be different, that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids."