On Monday, in a morning meeting at the White House, President Obama spoke with law enforcement officials from across the country on the issue of gun-related violence.
While the gathering had the look of a free form and open discussion, it was quite clear that Obama was sending a message to those in attendance: I need you to support my push for gun control reform.
Of course, it was never directly stated. It was only implied.
“The only way that we’re going to be able to do everything that needs to be done is with the cooperation of Congress,” Obama told the police chiefs in attendance, at least four of whom work in communities victimized by mass shootings: Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards, Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, and Tucson Police Chief Robert Villasenor.
“And that means passing serious laws that restrict the access and availability of assault weapons and magazine clips that aren’t necessary for hunters and sportsmen and those responsible gun owners who are out there,” Obama said. “It means that we are serious about universal background checks. It means that we take seriously issues of mental health and school safety.”
Yet, in order for Congress to pass those measures, both chambers need to be convinced or swayed that doing so is the “right” thing to do. This is where law enforcement comes into play, as Obama pointed out.
“If law enforcement officials who are dealing with this stuff every single day can come to some basic consensus in terms of steps that we need to take, Congress is going to be paying attention to them and we’ll be able to make progress,” Obama said.
There’s little doubt that because of its role law enforcement has a key voice in the debate over gun control. In short, Obama’s correct, Congress will be paying close attention to what the law enforcement community has to say on the matter.
But unfortunately for Obama, thus far, over 120 sheriffs from around the country have come out against his plan to curb gun-related violence, particularly those measures that are deemed to be unconstitutional as well as those that threaten to ban certain firearms and accessories.
With Representatives from the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Major County Sheriffs Association also in attendance, it appears Obama was attempting to turn the tide at this meeting, to win some support on a front where his administration has already lost a lot of ground.
Later that day, when asked how the meeting went, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said it was “very productive,” adding that “This all is part of the effort the president has undertaken to press forward on common-sense measures that can help reduce the scourge of gun violence in this country.”
All of this leads one to ask the question: will police officials eventually unite behind the president’s mission to reform the nation’s gun laws?