Obama kicks off gun control push with event in Minneapolis

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February 4, 2013 // UPDATED 10:41 am - February 5, 2013
By: Nick Halter
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Minneapolis Police Department's Deputy Chief of Operations Kristine Arneson today in North Minneapolis
Nick Halter
Nick Halter
Surrounded by roughly 75 Minneapolis cops and Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputies, President Barack Obama began his push for stricter gun control today

Surrounded by roughly 75 Minneapolis cops and Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputies, President Barack Obama began his push for stricter gun control today at the Police Department’s Special Operations Center in North Minneapolis. 

“If we’re serious about preventing the kind of tragedies that happened in Newtown , or the tragedies that happen every day in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia or Minneapolis, then law enforcement and our community leaders must have a seat at the table,” Obama said during his 15-minute speech.

Obama laid out several ideas for curbing gun violence: Requiring universal background checks for gun buyers; banning “military-style assault rifles”; increasing mental health options for young people and adding more cops to the streets.

“Weapons of war have no place on our streets or in our schools or threatening our law enforcement officers,” Obama said.  “Our law enforcement officers should never be outgunned on the streets.”

Obama’s visit to Minneapolis comes just a few days after Mayor R.T. Rybak unveiled an initiative to try to shed light on which companies sell guns and ammunition to the Minneapolis Police Department.

New Police Chief Janeé Harteau introduced the president, saying that he is the community’s best partner for collaboration on reducing gun violence.

“This culture of gun violence is something President Obama, this Police Department and this community will not accept,” Harteau said.

Several big-name political figures attended the speech, including Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Mark Dayton, Rybak, Walter Mondale, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney of Minnesota B. Todd Jones, whom Obama said should be confirmed as ATF director.

Also in attendance were mayoral candidates Betsy Hodges, Gary Schiff and Don Samuels. All three shook hands with the president after the speech.