Days after the emotional roll-out of his gun control executive orders that would see expanded background checks and other “common sense” gun control measures, President Obama said that the idea that he is hoping to take away everyone’s guns is a “conspiracy.”
Obama’s comments came during a televised town hall meeting hosted by CNN at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. When asked by Anderson Cooper, the host of the town hall, about the belief held by some that the president’s executive orders aim to take away all guns, Obama responded saying “I’m sorry, yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy.”
“What are you saying? Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everyone’s guns away so that we can impose Marshall Law is a conspiracy? Yes, that is a conspiracy,” Obama added. “I’m only going to be here for another year. When would I have started on this enterprise? Right?” the president said.
“I come from the state of Illinois, which, we’ve been talking about Chicago, but down-state Illinois is closer to Kentucky than it is to Chicago and everybody hunts down there and a lot of folks own guns, and so this is not alien territory to me,” the president said as part of his argument that he is not aiming to take away guns from responsible gun owners.
The idea that he is working to take away all guns “is a false notion that I believe is circulated for either political reasons or commercial reasons in order to prevent a coming together among people of good will to develop common sense rules that will make us safer while preserving the second amendment,” Obama said. “And, the notion that we can’t agree on some things, while not agreeing on others, and the reason for that being ‘well, the president secretly wants to do x’ would mean that we’d be paralyzed about doing everything,” the president added.
While the president seemed to call on lawmakers to support his gun control proposals, he spent most of the one-hour forum answering challenging questions from the audience of nearly 100 people who were either affected by gun related violence, or had loved ones who were. However, notably missing from the audience was the National Rifle Association (NRA), which boycotted the event, though Obama said he has repeatedly suggested speaking with the organization on the topic of gun control. NRA supporters were outside the university event venue protesting the town hall.
Shortly before he appeared in the televised town hall event, the president published an op-ed in the New York Times reiterating his belief that “the epidemic of gun violence in our country is a crisis. Gun deaths and injuries constitute one of the greatest threats to public health and to the safety of the American people.”
“A national crisis like this demands a national response,” the president added. “Reducing gun violence will be hard. It’s clear that common-sense gun reform won’t happen during this Congress.”
In his op-ed, the president cited statistics showing that every year, over 30,000 Americans die because of gun violence.