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Obama at CNN town hall meeting: I am not out to get your guns

The US president took on the gun lobby in a forum televised on prime-time CNN last night.

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama last night tore into the National Rifle Association on as he sought support for his actions on gun control, accusing the powerful lobby group of peddling an “imaginary fiction” that he said has distorted the national debate about gun violence.

In a town hall meeting televised by CNN, Obama dismissed what he called a “conspiracy” alleging that the federal government — and Obama in particular — wants to seize all firearms as a precursor to imposing martial law.

Source: CNN/YouTube

He blamed that notion on the NRA and like-minded groups that convince its members that “somebody’s going to come grab your guns”.

“Yes, that is a conspiracy,” Obama said.

I’m only going to be here for another year. When would I have started on this enterprise?

“There are a whole bunch of law-abiding citizens who have grown up hunting with their dad or going to the shooting range, and are responsible gun owners,” he added.

Obama defended his support for the constitutional right to gun ownership while arguing it was consistent with his efforts to curb mass shootings.

He said the NRA refused to acknowledge the government’s responsibility to make legal products safer, citing seatbelts and child-proof medicine bottles as examples.

Obama Guns Obama speaks during the CNN town hall meeting hosted by Anderson Cooper. Source: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/Press Association Images

Obama’s actions on guns have drawn major attention in the presidential campaign, with the Democratic candidates backing Obama and the Republicans unanimously voicing opposition.

Donald Trump, addressing a rally in Vermont just as Obama was holding the town hall, said he would eliminate gun-free zones in schools on his first day if elected to the White House.

“You know what a gun-free zone is for a sicko? That’s bait,” Trump told the crowd.

Obama’s broadside against the NRA came two days after unveiling a package of executive actions aimed at keeping guns from people who shouldn’t have them.

The centrepiece is new federal guidance that seeks to clarify who is “in the business” of selling firearms, triggering a requirement to get a license and conduct background checks on all prospective buyers.

 

Obama Guns A woman wears her gun on her hip while working at the Spring Guns and Amo store in Spring, Texas. Source: David J. Phillip/AP/Press Association Images

The plan has drawn intense criticism from gun rights groups that have accused the president of trampling on the Second Amendment and railroading Congress by taking action on his own without new laws.

Just after his 2012 re-election, Obama pushed hard for a bipartisan gun control bill that collapsed in the Senate, ending any realistic prospects for a legislative solution in the near term.

In a New York Times op-ed ahead of the town hall, Obama put political candidates on notice that he would refuse to support or campaign for anyone who “does not support common-sense gun reform” — including Democrats.

All the candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination support stricter gun laws, so the declaration appears to have been aimed at Democratic congressional candidates from competitive districts who might want Obama’s support on the campaign trail this year.

Watch: Obama in tears as he announces plan on gun control

Read: What difference will Obama’s new gun control plan make?

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Associated Press

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