President Obama met with police chiefs and law enforcement officials from large cities on Monday to discuss new proposals to end gun violence. Among the police chiefs present was John Edwards of the Oak Creek, Wisc. police department. The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek was the site of a mass shooting last August that resulted in seven dead, including the shooter.
Edwards told Thomas Roberts on MSNBC Tuesday morning that the president asked him and the other police chiefs, including those from Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo., to be candid about measures that would help end gun violence in the country. And he praised the ideas the White House laid out earlier this month.
“There are a lot of proposals in the president’s executive orders he put out that are going to help us,” Edwards said, referring to areas involving mental health and reporting stolen weapons.
Edwards emphasized that his main priority was stopping violence in general, not banning all guns. “The gun issue is so polarizing, and a lot of people stop dead in their tracks when they hear that and they hear nothing else,” he said.
“I personally don’t believe banning any particular weapon is going to stop these acts,” he added. “We have to go to the root of the problem and find out and identify where these things are.”
Edwards said he felt he was on the same page as the White House. Like the administration, he said he avoids talking about gun “control.”
“We’re trying to control violence, and that has many different facets to it,” Edwards said. “There’s mental health issues, there’s databases we need access to, there’s record checks that need to be done, there’s reporting stolen weapons, doctors being involved and sharing information between schools, police, mental health professionals. So we need to stop calling it a gun control debate…We shouldn’t be on any side or the other; we should all want to stop the violence.”