(USA TODAY) - President Obama pledged to work with Congress and others "to arrive at a consensus" on ways to reduce gun violence in the wake of the nation's latest mass shooting.
Though he supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms, Obama told members of the National Urban League last night, "I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals."
"I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons," Obama said less than a week after the shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colo. "That we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily.
"These steps shouldn't be controversial," Obama said at the Urban League convention in New Orleans. "They should be common sense."
Obama and aides have signaled they do not plan to unveil a package of gun control legislation in the wake of the Aurora attack. They emphasize improvements to the background check system that the president pitched after the mass shooting in Tucson in early 2011.
It would be difficult to get new gun legislation through a divided Congress. Leaders in the Republican-run House have said they will oppose any such measures.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says new gun laws are not the answer to what happened in Colorado.
"A lot of what this young man did was clearly against the law," Romney told NBC News. "The fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening."
Citing the opposition in Congress, Obama told the National Urban League audience, "I'm going to continue to work with members of both parties, and with religious groups and with civic organizations, to arrive at a consensus around violence reduction -- not just of gun violence, but violence at every level, on every step, looking at everything we can do to reduce violence and keep our children safe."