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President Obama / Carolyn Kaster, AP

Lobbying Congress to pass meaningful gun control, President Obama sought Monday to build public support through local law enforcement officials -- including police chiefs from cities that saw mass killings in 2012.

"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," Obama said.

The president spoke as he and Vice President Biden met at the White House with the police chiefs of Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and Oak Creek, Wis.

The Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school, and prompted the new gun push by Obama and Biden.

The administration's proposal calls for a renewed assault weapons ban, universal background checks and restrictions of the sizes of ammunition magazines, as well as new school safety and mental health programs.

Aurora, Colo., is the city where 12 people died in a mass shooting at a movie theater in July; Oak Creek, Wis., is the site of the Sikh temple where six people died during a shooting in August.

Obama's plan also received an endorsement Monday from another group of local officials: The U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, the current conference president, called for "a national commitment to reduce the culture of violence, stop the easy access to guns by those who should not legally possess them, and increase access to badly needed mental health services."

Some of the police chiefs who met with Obama were Michael Kehoe of Newtown, Daniel Oates of Aurora and John Edwards of Oak Creek.

The meeting also featured police chiefs and sheriffs from Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association have vowed to block Obama's gun-control proposals, calling them ineffective violations of Second Amendment rights.

Obama said he realizes the gun issue "elicits a lot of passion," but the goal is to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

While Obama has issued executive orders designed to bolster the existing background check system and promote research into the causes of violence, he said that "the only way that we're going to be able to do everything that needs to be done is with the cooperation of Congress."

The White House meeting also featured representatives from the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs' Association. Obama said it's important to listen to law enforcement officials at the local level because "they are where the rubber hits the road."

Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Janet Napolitano also attended the meeting at the White House.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama meets with police chiefs from mass-shooting cities

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