President Obama says he will not vote for any candidate, even a Democrat, who does not support what he calls "commonsense gun reform." Obama made the demand in an op-ed published Thursday on the New York Times website. The president says 90% of Americans support such reform and that if they join him, the US "will elect the leadership we deserve." A new CNN poll shows 67% of Americans support the executive actions on gun control announced by Obama this week. The Times published the essay just before Obama took questions at a televised town hall meeting on gun violence, during which he tore into the National Rifle Association for peddling an "imaginary fiction" that he said has distorted the national debate about gun violence.
In the CNN forum, Obama dismissed what he called a "conspiracy" alleging that the federal government—and Obama in particular— wants to seize all firearms as a precursor to imposing martial law. He blamed that notion on the NRA and like-minded groups that convince its members that "somebody's going to come grab your guns." Yes, "that is a conspiracy," Obama said. "I'm only going to be here for another year. When would I have started on this enterprise?" Obama defended his support for the constitutional right to gun ownership while arguing it was consistent with his efforts to curb mass shootings. He said the NRA refused to acknowledge the government's responsibility to make legal products safer, citing seat belts and child-proof medicine bottles as examples. NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said beforehand that the group saw "no reason to participate in a public relations spectacle orchestrated by the White House." (Read more Barack Obama stories.)