President Barack Obama sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to address his stance on gun violence. He also answered questions from the audience of politicians, police officers, clergymen and families who had been personally affected by gun violence. Here are five take aways from the evening.
The President has never owned a gun:
The first question of the night from Anderson Cooper was whether or not the President has owned a gun to which he said no. He cited that having grown up in Hawaii, gun ownership was not considered necessary. Obama did say that he has been skeet shooting at Camp David.
Obama was upset that the NRA didn’t want to participate:
The President was ready to address one of his primary critics on gun control, the National Rifle Association, during the town hall but the organization’s leadership declined the invitation to attend. “Our position is consistently mischaracterized, there’s a reason why the NRA’s not here. They’re just down the street,” Obama said, referring to the group’s nearby headquarters in Fairfax, VA. “Since this is a main reason they exist, you’d think that they’d be prepared to have a debate with the president.” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN the organization saw “no reason to participate in a public relations spectacle orchestrated by the White House.”
He provided advice for the youth in Chicago:
Tre Bosley, a teenager and native of Chicago shared with the President that his brother was a victim of gun violence. He asked for the President’s advice for those who are in poverty-stricken neighborhoods that believe that gun violence is the only way to solve a problem. Obama said, “Continue to be an outstanding role model for the young ones that are coming up behind you. Keep listening to your mom, work hard and get an education. Understand that high school and whatever peer pressure restrictions you’re under right now won’t matter by the time you’re a full adult and what matters is your future.” He added, “You’re really important to the future of this country. I think it’s critical in this debate to understand and it’s not just inner-city kids that are at risks in these situations.”
The First Lady is partial to gun ownership:
In efforts to help detractors understand that he emphasizes with people’s right to bear arms, President Obama shared a story about campaigning in Iowa with the First Lady and what she would want if their family lived in a rural environment. She said to him, “‘You know, if I was living in a farmhouse where the sheriff’s department is pretty far away and somebody can just turn off the highway and come up to the farm, I would want to have a shotgun or a rifle to make sure I was protected and to make sure my family was protected.’” The President added, “Part of the reason, I think, that this ends up being such a difficult issue is because people occupy different realities.” Understanding that there can be a need for a gun in certain instances, he stands by his positioning for stricter control because, “There’s the reality that there are neighborhoods around the country where it is easier for a 12- or 13-year-old to purchase a gun than it is for them to get a book.”
There’s a reason why fire arms can’t be titled like cars:
Father Michael Pfleger, one of Chicago’s most renown clergymen, asked Obama why the U.S. can’t enforce titles and registration on guns similar to the process of purchasing a car. Obama said “there’s not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it…people are concerned that [registration] becomes a prelude to taking their guns away.” The President’s alternative was to continue to develop technology where gun usage would require an authentication process. He said that nearly twenty years ago, gun manufactures like Colt and Smith & Wesson were attacked and boycotted by the NRA for suggesting the implementation of additional technological safety features. Obama said his administration plans to continue to do the necessary research and work with the private sector to advance the “preventable deaths” such as children playing with and shooting themselves with guns and other misfires.