"We don't have to agree on everything to agree it is time to do something," Obama said in remarks at the Minneapolis Police Department's Special Operations Center. "Each of us has a role to play."
Any action taken may not prevent every massacre or shooting, "but if there's one thing we can do, one life we can save, we've got an obligation to try."
He reiterated his push for "common sense steps to prevent gun violence," such as universal background checks, and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Obama said any discussion about preventing gun violence requires law enforcement and other community leaders to "have a seat at the table.
"They're the ones on the front lines of this fight -- they see the awful consequences," Obama said. "They know what works, what doesn't work and how to get things done without regard for politics."
Before his remarks, Obama met with local, state, private law enforcement, civic and non-governmental organization leaders, as well as survivors of shootings, in Minneapolis, which was known as "Murder-apolis" in the 1990s.
In response, Minneapolis united and began several youth initiatives that reduced the number of young people injured by guns by 40 percent, Obama said, demonstrating "when it comes protecting children from gun violence, progress is possible."
During the roundtable discussion, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he supports the three legislative pillars of Obama's guns agenda, adding, "We still need commonsense law changes in Washington."
Obama noted he had taken executive actions to strengthen background check, get resource officers to schools if they want them, and direct the Centers for Disease Control to study the causes of violence.
But, he said, "real and lasting change requires Congress to do its part and do it soon," noting that a bipartisan consensus was beginning to emerge.
A bipartisan effort in the Senate has resulted in work on legislation that would ban selling guns to people legally barred from buying one as well as cracking down on those who buy guns and then sell them to criminals.
"In addition to reducing violence on streets, [these measures would] make life a lot easier and a lot safer for people standing behind me today," Obama said of the law enforcement officials standing on the stage.
Speaking about reinstating the ban on military-style assault weapons, Obama said, "weapons of war have no place on our streets or in our schools. ... Our law enforcement officers should never be outgunned on the streets."
But any consideration also must look at the root causes as well, including giving young people access to mental health treatment, he said.
"These are common sense measures supported by Democrats, Republicans and independents, many of them responsible gun owners," Obama said.
But, "The only way of reducing gun violence ... is if you decide it's important," Obama said.
"Everyone listening needs to keep pressure on their members of Congress to do the right thing," Obama said. "Ask if they support commonsense reforms ... . Tell them there's no legislation to eliminate all guns, no legislation proposed to subvert the Second Amendment."
"Now is the time for action," Obama said, not when another massacre occurs or communities "lose more innocent Americans on street corners."
"There won't be perfect solutions ... but we can make a difference," he said. "That's our responsibility as Americans."