Obama: I believe in the Second Amendment

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calder Getty Images/Mandel Ngan

U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon March 3, 2011 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
Getty Images/Mandel Ngan

President Obama said Thursday that he believes that the Second Amendment protects Americans' right to bear arms - but added that it doesn't mean that the government can't work to keep guns from being sent to Mexico, where a violent drug war rages.

"The Second Amendment in this country is part of our Constitution and the president of the United States is bound by our Constitution," he said. "So I believe in the Second Amendment. It does provide for Americans the right to bear arms for their protection, for their safety, for hunting, for a wide range of uses. That does not mean that we cannot constrain gun runners from shipping guns into Mexico."

Mr. Obama made the comments during a joint appearance with Mexican President Filipe Calderon. He said his administration is "trying to work our way through more effective enforcement mechanisms to prevent straw purchasers from buying caches of weapons, transporting them across the border." (watch the answer at left)

He added that "we are very mindful that the battle President Calderon is fighting inside of Mexico is not just his battle, it's also ours." He referenced the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico as well as American demand for Mexican drugs.

Gun sales soared around the country after Mr. Obama was elected over fears that he would institute aggressive gun control policies - which he has not. Indeed, he has been criticized by gun control advocatesfor not taking a stronger stance in favor of gun control.

Then-candidate Obama was criticized during the presidential campaign for saying that some working class voters "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said in a speech to the National Rifle Association last May that Mr. Obama would ban guns and ammunition if he could.

More from the press conference:

Obama: Qaddafi has lost legitimacy and must leave
Obama: NFL should be able to work it out without me
Obama: Mexico has "full partner" in drug wars

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