Obama Examines Minneapolis Violence Reduction as Gun Bill Model

Special to The Informer from McFarlane Media | 2/6/2013, 2:28 p.m.

Minneapolis - During the 1990s Minneapolis earned the dubious moniker, Murderapolis for its high number of shootings and murders, but the city is now being hailed as a national model in reducing crime.

The city's turnaround is the reason President Barack Obama chose north Minneapolis as the setting for his first speech outside of Washington D.C. on the issue of gun control. The president, who has made gun control his chief initiative in his second term, spoke Monday, Feb. 4, to a national audience and said regardless of a person's political views, now is the time for action.

"We don't have to agree on everything to agree it's time to do something," said the president, who offered his remarks at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center, 4119 Dupont Ave. N. The site is just blocks from several shootings, including the shooting of 5-year-old Nizzel George, whose teenage murderers recently plead guilty to the crime. The center is also near the location of the still unsolved shooting of 3-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr., who was killed in his home by a stray bullet.

Prior to his nationally televised remarks, President Obama, along with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN), acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), B. Todd Jones, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and select members of law enforcement met privately with several area individuals whose lives were directly impacted by gun violence. The private roundtable lasted nearly an hour.

"If we're serious about preventing the kinds of tragedies that happened in Newtown, or the tragedies that happen every day in places like Chicago or Philadelphia or Minneapolis, then law enforcement and other community leaders must have a seat at the table," said Obama, while flanked by nearly 100 members of various city and state law enforcement officers. "All the folks standing here behind me, they're the ones on the front line of this fight. They see the awful consequences - the lives lost, the families shattered. They know what works, they know what doesn't work, and they know how to get things done without regard for politics."

During his public remarks, which lasted about 15 minutes, the president reiterated his call for legislation that he said can reduce the number of gun crimes in the nation. As a part of the president's plan, he called on Congress to enact legislation to make mandatory criminal background checks for all guns sold in the U.S., limit the capacity of gun magazines to 10 rounds and to reenact the assault weapons ban.

"The vast majority of Americans - including a majority of gun owners - support requiring criminal background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun," said Obama. "That's common sense. There's no reason we can't get that done. That is not a liberal idea or a conservative idea. It's not a Democratic or Republican idea; that is a smart idea."

The president said it is past time we act to end the scourge of gun violence in the nation. But he said he needs the American people's help.