Obama asks police to help pass gun legislation

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama kept up pressure on Congress Monday to pass tough new gun legislation, seeking help

from law enforcement leaders in three communities that have suffered the horrors of mass shootings.

At a White House meeting, Obama said that no

group is more important in the gun debate and he said he recognizes the

issue

"elicits a lot of passion all across the country." But Obama also

said he believes Congress will respond to appeals from police.

"Hopefully 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," he said, "Congress is going to be paying attention to them, and we'll be able to

make progress."

The president's meeting comes as he tries to build support for gun control legislation that will be difficult to get through

Congress. He urged Congress to pass an assault weapons ban, limit high capacity magazines and require universal background

checks.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina has

indicated he will be using the power of the president's still intact

political organization

to mobilize support for the legislation. Messina traveled to New

York City last week to meet with aides to Mayor Michael Bloomberg

at City Hall, according to a person familiar with the discussion,

speaking on a condition of anonymity since the meeting was

private. Bloomberg has tightened gun laws in the city and founded

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition that now has more

than 800 mayors pushing for national legislation.

Obama met in the Roosevelt Room with the

heads of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County

Sheriffs Association,

members of his Cabinet and chiefs that responded to the worst

shootings of 2012. That includes Aurora, Colo., where 12 were

killed in July; Oak Creek, Wis., where six died in a Sikh temple

assault: and Newtown, Conn., scene of the most recent mass

tragedy that left 20 first-graders dead.

Obama also said that Washington needs to

take mental health issues and school safety more seriously and should

help law enforcement

agencies hire more police, make sure they get the training they

need and give rural forces the resources they need to deal

with emergencies.

"Many of them also recognize that it's not only the high profile mass shootings that are of concern here," the president said.

"It's also what happens on a day in day out basis in places like Chicago or Philadelphia where young people are victims of

gun violence every single day."