In Colorado, Obama presses for gun measures

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DENVER -- Struggling to get a gun-control law through Congress, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that restrictions adopted recently by Colorado show "there doesn't have to be a conflict" between keeping citizens safe and protecting Second Amendment rights to gun ownership.

"I believe there's no conflict between reconciling these realities," Obama said in Denver, where he was stepping up his call for background checks for all gun purchases and renew his demand that Congress at least vote on banning assault weapons and limiting access to large-capacity ammunition magazines.

"There doesn't have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment rights," he said, noting that it's been just over 100 days since the shooting rampage that killed 20 first-graders and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and reignited the national debate over access to guns.

In danger of losing congressional momentum, Obama went to Colorado -- which has a deep-rooted hunting tradition and where gun ownership is a cherished right -- to highlight state efforts to tighten gun laws. His intent is to use Colorado's example and public pressure to prod reluctant members of Congress to act.

Colorado recently expanded background checks for gun purchases and placed restrictions on ammunition magazines. Prospects for passage of similar measures by Congress appear bleak, largely because of concerns by conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats who come down more on the side of gun rights.

In Denver, Obama met with 19 law enforcement officers, activists and elected officials at the Denver Police Academy, not far from the Aurora suburb where a gunman last summer killed 12 people in a movie theater.

Among those participating in the discussion with Obama was Sandy Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Redfield Ghawi, 24, died in the Aurora shooting. Phillips said she is counting on Obama to press the issue.

"We need to have universal background checks for every sale, that's a minimum," she said in an interview before the meeting.

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