(Newsroom America) -- In his first public comments about the massacre in Aurora, Colo., President Obama on Thursday called in part for new restrictions on gun ownership, sounding a familiar theme endearing to his Democratic Party while trying to strike a balance with the conservative right's staunch defense of the Second Amendment.
"A lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals," Obama said in comments to the annual National Urban League conference in New Orleans.
"They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities," he said.
In his speech, Obama blamed "politics and lobbying" for the failure of Congress to pass more gun control measures in the wake of shooting tragedies like the one last week in Aurora, Colo., during the midnight premier of the new Batman movie.
But, he said, the nation should not just be focused on those kinds of shootings, but on daily gun violence in major cities as well.
"Every day, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater," said Obama. "For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago or Atlanta, here in New Orleans. Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest towns."
"I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms," he added. "But I also believe that the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons, that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can [purchase a gun], that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily."
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