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July 23, 2012

Obama aide: No new gun control laws needed

President Barack Obama doesn't believe stricter gun laws need to be implemented in the wake of tragedy in Colorado theatre. (UPI/Ron Sachs/pool)

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (UPI) -- President Obama doesn't believe new gun control laws are needed to deal with incidents such as the Colorado theater massacre, his top spokesman said Sunday.

Asked by a reporter aboard Air Force Once as the president flew to Aurora, Colo., where the theater shooting occurred last week whether the gun lobby precludes any sort of policy response in terms of access to firearms, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president "believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons."

"But the president's view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that's his focus right now," Carney said.

Asked if Obama believes gun control should now become a more important campaign issue, campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki replied "it's really too early to say how this will play" and the campaign is "just taking this day by day."

"I think this stage where this is so fresh and new for so many people, including the people in Colorado, who are still mourning the loss of their loved ones, will be for a long time, many people are still recovering, we're still learning what exactly happened here and more details ...," Psaki said.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a gun control advocate, said on "Fox News Sunday" she believes Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has mostly refrained from delving into the gun control issue since the theater shootins, should be considerable "consideration" to the gun control issue, but now is a "bad time" to push it.

Independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had no such qualms about pressing the issue, saying in an interview for CBS' "Face the Nation" his question for both Obama and Romney is: "What are you going to do?"

"It's time for both of them to be called, held accountable," Bloomberg said.

"There are about 34 people killed with illegal guns every single day.

"Somebody's got to do something about this and it requires, particularly in a presidential year, the candidates for president of the United States to stand up once and for all say, 'Yes they felt terrible, yes it's a tragedy, yes we have great sympathies for the families, but it's time for this country to do something.'"

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" he doubts tougher gun laws would have stopped suspected Aurora gunman James Holmes from carrying out what he called "terrorist" acts.

"This person, if there were no assault weapons available, if there were no this or no that, this guy's going to find something, right?" Hickenlooper said.

Carney said while the shooting attack was "a terrifying thing to imagine and a terrifying moment for anyone in that theater to have experienced what this individual perpetrated," officials at the federal level "do not see any connection between the assault and terrorist organizations or terrorist -- any nexus with terrorist organizations or terrorism."

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