Despite recent polls to the contrary, Obama says majority of gun owners want stricter laws.
In a nearly 15 minute speech just hours after 10 people were killed and scores wounded at a northern Oregon community college, President Barack Obama called for tough gun restrictions aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of potential killers, suggesting the United States should implement gun confiscation laws similar to those enacted in Great Britain and Australia after similar rampages in those countries.
“We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours,” Obama said at the White House October 1. “So we know there are ways to prevent it.”
After a deranged gunman killed 35 in the so-called “Port Arthur” massacre in 1996, Australia enacted a near ban on private ownership of semi-automatic rifles and handguns, confiscating weapons from citizens in a buyback scheme for one year. The government purchased and destroyed an estimated 1 million firearms during the confiscation.
Similarly, in Great Britain the government banned the private ownership of all handguns in 1996 after a school massacre in Dunblane, Scotland, killed 17.
“The notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense,” Obama said.
Reports allege 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer shot many of his Umpqua Community College victims at point-blank range after asking them their religion. It is still unclear what kind of firearms the shooter used or how he obtained them, with several news stories indicating he was carrying multiple handguns and possibly a semi-automatic rifle.
While state law reportedly bars most colleges from banning licensed concealed carry, Umpqua Community College posted rules in its code of conduct banning handguns for personal protection, and Oregon recently enacted a law requiring a background check for private gun sales.
The president said that given such tragedies, most gun owners support stricter gun laws and would welcome “common-sense gun legislation.”
“We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners,” Obama alleged.
But multiple recent polls have found most Americans do not want more gun laws, believe stricter gun laws would do little to stop such killings and disapprove of the president’s handling of gun control.
A CNN/ORC poll conducted in September showed 59 percent of those surveyed believe current gun laws are “about right” or “too strict,” and 59 percent disapproved of Obama’s push for more gun laws.
The shooting in Oregon also coincides with newly-released crime statistics from the FBI that shows a continued decade-long decline in murder involving guns, with nearly triple the number of victims dying from assaults with “hands, fists and feet” than those who die from a rifle shot.