Among the group of police chiefs and county sheriffs were top officers from Newtown, Conn., where 27 people, including 20 children, were killed before the shooter committed suicide in December; Aurora, Colo., were 12 people died and 58 people were injured during a shooting at a movie theater in July, and Oak Creek, Wis., where six were killed at a Sikh temple in August.
"As we've indicated before the only way that we are going to be able to do everything that can be done is with the cooperation of Congress and that means passing serious laws that restrict access to and availability of assault weapons and magazine clips that aren't necessary for hunters and sportsmen -- those responsible gun owners who are out there," Obama said before he, the officials, Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials met behind closed doors. "It means that we are serious about universal background checks; it means we take seriously issues of mental health and school safety."
The administration recognizes the issue of gun legislation "elicits a lot of passion all across the country," the president said.
Obama stressed the importance of hearing from law enforcement leaders on gun legislation and what communities across the country need from the federal government to reduce the number of mass shootings.
"No group is more important for us to listen to than our law enforcement officials," Obama said. "They're where rubber hits the road."
Obama said he looked forward to "a robust conversation" about the issues of new laws or better enforcement of existing gun laws, as well as "what are we are doing to make sure that we have got the strongest possible law enforcement teams on the ground."
The law enforcement officials were in Washington for a joint conference of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs' Association.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, during the groups' joint session Monday, highlighted the federal department's collaboration with state and local law enforcement for a safer, more secure nation.
"Over the past few years, DHS and the law enforcement community have transformed how we work together ... to share information, build capabilities, combat threats in our communities, and address shared challenges," Napolitano said. "DHS is committed to continuing to support the men and women on the front lines through training, information sharing and collaboration to confront an evolving range of threats."
The secretary said Homeland Security will expand its efforts to prevent mass casualty shootings, improve preparedness, and strengthen security and resilience in schools and other possible targets of mass shootings while working with law enforcement officials at all levels of government.
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