President Obama brought his battle against gun violence to Minneapolis on Monday, praising the city for its efforts to reduce youth gunplay to an audience that included survivors of Minnesota gun tragedies, reports the city’s Star Tribune. “You’ve shown that progress is possible,” Obama told an invited, sympathetic crowd at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Special Operations Center in north Minneapolis, where he highlighted the city’s success in reducing youth gun violence. In his first visit outside Washington, D.C., to promote his own anti-violence and gun-control agenda, Obama said the nation can make similar progress — if the public demands it.
The president faces an intense political fight over his plan, which includes universal background checks, and a ban on military-style assault weaponry and large-capacity ammunition clips. Obama met privately with more than 20 politicians, law enforcement officials and civilians who know the issue from terrible experience. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who met with Obama, declared gun ownership “a right guaranteed by the Constitution.” Meanwhile, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak expressed outrage at politicians who already were talking down the proposal’s chances. “Well, guess what?” Rybak said. “People are dying out there. I am not satisfied with the main sort of front from the people in Washington, that this is sort of a game. Where are the other people on this issue? Get a spine, get a backbone. People are losing their lives.”