Continuing the White House campaign to build widespread support for stricter gun laws, President Obama today met with 13 police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country to discuss strategies for curbing American gun violence, inviting a "robust" conversation on how to reduce both mass shootings and everyday gun violence in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia.
Among the participants in the meeting include representatives from the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs Association, as well as police chiefs from Aurora, Colo., Oak Creek, Wis., and Newtown, Conn.
Mr. Obama, who was joined by Vice President Joe Biden as well as Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, stressed his commitment to including law enforcement agents in the broader conversation about gun violence, and addressing ways in which police officers and sheriffs can increase their own efficacy in dealing with the problem on a day-to-day level.
"No group is more important for us to listen to than our law enforcement officials. They're where rubber hits the road," Mr. Obama said in remarks before the meeting. "And so I welcome this opportunity to work with them, to hear their views in terms of what would make the biggest difference to prevent something like Newtown or Oak Creek from happening again."
While much of the recent conversation surrounding gun control has referenced December's mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., the White House has also reiterated its commitment to dealing with the less-publicized but equally lethal episodes of everyday urban gun violence.
"It's not only the high-profile mass shootings that are of concern here, it's also what happens on a day-in day-out basis in places like Chicago or Philadelphia where young people are victims of gun violence every single day," Mr. Obama said. "Part of the conversation that we're going to be having today relates not only to the issue of new laws or better enforcement of our gun laws -- it also means what are we doing to make sure that we've got the strongest possible law enforcement teams on the ground. What are we doing to hire more cops, what are we doing to make sure that they're getting the training that they need? What are we doing to make sure that sheriffs' offices in rural counties have access to some of the resources that some of the big cities do in order to deal with some of these emergencies?"