Law enforcement leaders who met with President Obama yesterday urged him to focus on strengthening gun purchase background checks and mental health systems, but did not unify behind more controversial gun control efforts, the Associated Press reports. The message from sheriffs and police chiefs at the White House reflected the political reality that the assault weapons ban will have a hard time winning broad support. Police Chiefs are "very supportive of the assault weapons ban," said Montgomery County, Md., Chief J. Thomas Manger, "But I think everybody understands that may be a real tough battle to win."
"I think what was made clear was that gun control in itself is not the salvation to this issue," said Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald of Story County, Ia., one of 13 law enforcement leaders who met with the president, vice president and Cabinet members for more than an hour. Fitzgerald said the mental health system needs to be better funded because jails across the country are becoming "dumping grounds for the mentally ill. I was not the only sheriff that spoke up on that issue. To me, that is the No. 1 thing if we are going to impact that kind of violence that's happening in America."