President Barack Obama took the opportunity Tuesday at a law enforcement event to tamp down speculation that he planned to confiscate Americans’ guns.
“Every time a mass shooting happens one of the saddest ironies is suddenly the purchase of guns and ammunition jumps up because folks scared into thinking that Obama’s gonna use this as an excuse to take away our Second Amendment rights,” he said at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Chicago. “Nobody’s doing that.”
“We’re talking about common-sense measures to make sure criminals don’t get them,” he added. “To make sure background checks work. To make sure that we’re protecting ourselves.”
After a gunman killed nine people earlier this month at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, The Washington Post reported that the President was considering using executive action to expand background checks to more firearms purchases. But some conservative media outlets and fringe blogs instead claimed that Obama wanted to confiscate people’s guns.
Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump further stoked the paranoia at a rally in ruby-red South Carolina where he said “the President is thinking about signing an executive order where he wants to take your guns away.” Trump later justified the claim in an interview with CNN by saying that he’d heard about the alleged gun confiscation plot in news outlets, including CNN.
Obama implored people not to pay attention to the gun confiscation chatter.
“Some of you are watching certain television stations or listening to certain radio programs,” he said at the conference. “Please do not believe this notion that somehow I’m out to take everybody’s guns away.”
As Adam Weinstein recently noted at The Trace, National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre has been uncharacteristically silent through this year’s rash of mass shootings. He broke that silence not by addressing the mass shootings, but by drawing attention to violent crime in Obama’s hometown in a video released Tuesday.
“The untold secret in Washington is that he has all the laws he needs to stop the bloodshed now,” LaPierre said in the video. “Under the existing federal gun laws, he could take every felon with a gun, drug dealer with a gun and criminal gangbanger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock them up for five years or more. But he won’t do it, his Justice Department won’t do it, and the media never asks why.”
Watch Obama’s remarks below via RealClearPolitics: