WASHINGTON— Two months after the shooting of a U.S. congresswoman, President Barack Obama called Sunday for more stringent enforcement of existing gun laws, citing the "awful consequences" of gun violence in American society.
In an op-ed essay in The Arizona Daily Star, Obama says legislation to bolster criminal background checks for gun buyers hasn't been properly implemented, with too many states providing "incomplete and inadequate" information. [Read the U.S. News debate: Should Congress Ban High-Capacity Ammo Clips?]
He suggested rewarding states that provide the most comprehensive information to the criminal background database.
"We should make the system faster and nimbler," the president added. "We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it."
The Arizona Daily Star is based in Tucson, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot during a January rampage in which six were killed and 12 others wounded. The accused assailant, Jared Loughner, was considered mentally unstable, yet because he was never deemed mentally ill by a judge or committed to an institution, he was able to legally buy the gun police said he used. [See which members of Congress get the most in campaign contributions from gun rights groups.]
Obama acknowledged that it isn't easy to find common ground between gun owners and gun-control advocates.
However, he said, "none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television."