President Obama: 'Practical Progress Is Possible' on Guns

The president speaks to the Denver Police Academy about gun violence.
3:00 | 04/03/13

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Transcript for President Obama: 'Practical Progress Is Possible' on Guns
From the beginning of this up. We wanted. Law enforcement front and center. In shaping this discussion. And the reforms that emerged from because. Law enforcement -- this every night. Law enforcement. Are the first to see the terrible consequences. Of any kind of violence certainly gun violence lives lost families broken. Communities that are changed forever. There -- Very often in the line of fire. The law enforcement knows what works and what doesn't. And so we want a bad experience. And that advice. And it was also important for us to hear from. Mayors like Steve -- because. He's been on the front -- having to deal with. These issues. Under incredibly. Sad circumstances. I've come to Denver today in particular because Colorado. Is proving a model of what's possible. It's now been just over a hundred days since the murder of -- innocent children and six brave educators. In Newtown Connecticut. An event that -- this country. And I think galvanize Paris. All across the country to say we've got to do something more to protect our kids. -- consider this. Over those hundred days or so. More than a hundred times as many Americans have fallen. Victims of gun violence. More than 2000 of our fellow citizens struck down. Often because us. They were just going about their daily around. -- -- -- -- -- Just doing what. Folks Stewart regarded shopping going to school. Every day that we wait to do something about. Even more of our fellow citizens are stolen from our lives. By a bullet from a -- -- the good news is Colorado. Has already chosen to do something about. What does the state could have suffered. The tragedy of two of the worst mass shootings and -- -- Fourteen years ago this month -- -- mind. And just last year in a war. But this is also a statement treasures its Second Amendment Rights. The state of proud hunters and sportsmen. By the way the governor one -- Minor body that there is outstanding elk hunting here in Colorado. There's a strong tradition of gun ownership. That's handed down from generation to generation. And it's part of the fabric of people's lives. And they treat. Gun ownership -- reverence. And respect. And so I'm here because I believe. There doesn't have to be a conflict. In reconciling these realities. There doesn't have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment Rights. I've got stacks of letters in my office from proud gun owners whether there for sport or protection or collection. -- tell me how deeply they cherished. The rights don't want him infringed upon but they still want us to do something. To stop the epidemic of gun violence. I appreciate everyone of those letters. And I've learned from. I think that Colorado has shown that practical progress is possible now and January. Just a few weeks after -- I put forward a series of common sense proposals along the same lines as what's pastor cholera. To reduce gun violence. And keep our kids -- In my State of the Union Address I urged congress to give these proposals a -- and by the way. Before we even ask for a vote. Minority signed. Numerous executive orders. Doing what we could administratively. To make sure the guns don't fall into the hands of the wrong people. -- what I said -- is still true. People really got to tackle this problem seriously. And we've got to get congress. To take the next up. And as soon as next week they will be -- As soon as next week every senator. We'll get to vote on whether or not we should require background checks for anyone who wants to purchase a gun. Some say well we already have background checks. And the right over the past twenty years those background checks -- kept more than two million dangerous people from buying a gun. But the loopholes that currently exist in the law. Have allowed way too many criminals. And folks -- shouldn't be getting guns. It's allowed them to avoid background checks entirely. That makes it harder for law enforcement to do its job it's not safe it's not Smart. And by the way it's not fair responsible gun owners who were playing by the rules. I understand nobody is talking about creating an entirely new system. We are simply talking about plugging holes. Sealing. Tape for a system that isn't working as -- it should. If you want to buy a -- whether it's from a licensed dealer or -- private seller. You should at least have to pass a background check to show your not a criminal or someone legally prohibited from buying one and that's just common. By the way most gun owners more than 80%. Agreed. This makes sense more than 70% up NRA members. Agree 90% of the American people. Agree so there is no reason we can't do this. Unless politics is getting in the way. There's there's no reason. We -- news. As soon as next week every senator will get a chance to vote on a proposal to help strengthen school safety. And help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment that they -- As soon as next week every senator will get to vote on whether or not. We should crack down on folks who buy guns as part of a scheme to armed criminals. That would keep more guns off the streets and out of the hands of people who were intent. On doing wrong. And it would make life a whole lot easier and safer for the people behind me police officers. Every senator will get. A say on whether or not we should keep weapons of war and high capacity ammunition magazines would facilitate mass killings. -- -- -- -- type of assault -- rifle used in -- -- for example when paired with a high capacity magazine. Has one purpose. To pump out as many bullets as possible asbestos -- What allowed. That government to shoot seventy people and killed twelve. In a matter of few minutes. I don't believe that weapons design for fears of war haven't. Place in movie theaters. Most about. He knew from beginning the change won't be easy and we knew that there be powerful voices that. Would -- -- very good to run out the clock change subject to ignore the majority of our people. We knew they try to make any progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration or maybe people would just stop and -- The only way at this time will be different is that the American people demand that this time it must be -- that this time. Many parents. We need teachers we need police officers when he. Pastors. When -- hunters and sportsmen. Americans of every background to say. We've suffered too much pain and care too much about her children to allow this -- -- -- -- Just wait for the next new -- or the next store. Before we act. And I. I genuinely believe that's what. The overwhelming majority of Americans I don't care what party they belong to. That's what they want -- what they just wanna see some progress. There are good people. On both sides of this thing. But we have to be able to put ourselves -- the other person's shoes. If your Hummer if -- -- sportsman. If you have a gun in your house for protection. You've got to understand. What it feels like for that mom whose son. Was randomly shot. And if you live in urban area. And you're worried about street crime you -- understand. What -- -- might be like if you grew out on a ranch. And you're -- have been taken -- loyalist. And we had a couple sportsmen and our conversation today and -- one -- -- something very important is that. All my experience -- been possible. But I realized that for others all their experiences about guns have been meant. -- -- start right if we start listening and each other then we should be able to get. Something done that's constructive. We should help get back up. We've we've got to get past. Some of the rhetoric that gets perpetuated. That breaks down trust. And and is so over the top. But it just shuts down all discussion. And it's important for all of us when we hear that kind of talk to say hold on a side. If there -- any folks were out there right now. Who are gun owners and you've been here in the some -- -- taking away your guns get the facts. We're -- we're proposing a gun registration system were proposing. Background checks for criminal. Don't just listen to what some advocates or. Folks who have an interest in this -- -- saying. Look at the actual legislation. That's what happened here in Colorado. And and hopefully. If we if we know the facts and we're list and each other. That we can actually move for. And that's what members of congress need to hear from -- Right now members of congress are home -- their districts many of them are holding events where they can hear from their constituents. So I'm asking. Anyone out there who's listening today. Find out where -- -- congress stands on these issues. If they're not part of the 90% of Americans who agree on -- background checks. And ask them why not. Why -- you want to make it more difficult for a dangerous criminal to get his or her hands on ago. Why would -- want to close the loophole that allows too many criminals to buy a -- without even the simplest of background checks why on earth when. What you wanna make it easier rather than harder for law enforcement to do their job. There's just one step we can take to prevent more Americans from knowing the pain that some of the families were here. Have known don't we have an obligation to -- Don't we have -- I think if -- -- he. If these reforms keep warm person. From murdering dozens of innocent children. Or worshippers. -- moviegoers. In a span of minutes isn't it. Isn't worth fighting for. I believe it is. That's why American all working I'm gonna keep on giving it my best efforts. But I'm gonna need your help. This is not easy. And all be -- a lot of members of congress this is tough for. Because. Those were pose to any form. Of legislative. Legislation affecting. Guns. They're very well organized are very well financed. But it can be done if enough horses are. So ought to thank all the police officers -- here for giving their best efforts every -- -- they want to thank governor Hickenlooper who -- outstanding leadership. I want to thank all the families who are here for your courage. And being willing to take out of this tragedy is something positive. I want to thank the people of Colorado for coming together -- sensible way is let's see if we can get the whole country do so. Thank you Denver god bless and -- but.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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