by John McCormick, updated
MILWAUKEE – Sen. Barack Obama this morning commented on Thursday's shootings at Northern Illinois University, as he also discussed his views on gun laws.
The Illinois Democrat, talking for the first time about the shootings in his home state, said during a news conference that he had talked to the school's president this morning.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who were killed and those who were injured….when a madman walked into a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University and opened fire," Obama said.
Obama said he pledged whatever support was needed for the school.
"I told the president that I would obviously make my office available if anything could be done to help deal with their situation with the families and ongoing investigations and discussions about approved security," he said.
Obama talked about the ongoing suffering, after attention inevitably goes elsewhere.
"They come in and out of the headlines and after a while, most of the world goes on," he said. "But for all the loved ones who are left behind, the pain and sorrow, I can only imagine, remains for a very, very long time."
Obama said the nation must commit itself to "do whatever it takes to eradicate this violence from our streets, from our schools, from our neighborhoods and our cities."
Before speaking to a rally here, Obama said the nation must do a "more effective job of enforcing our gun laws, strengthening our background check system, being able to trace guns that are used in violent crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers -- so that we can crack down on them -- closing gun show loopholes."
He specifically pointed to a California law as a possible model.
"There was a discussion today about a law that has just passed in California that allows micro-tracing of bullets that have been discharged in a crime so that they can immediately be traced," he said. "This is something that California has passed over the strong objections of the NRA…That's the kind of common sense gun law that gun owners as well as victims of gun violence can get behind."
Obama said he believes in the Second Amendment, but that there is plenty of room for added gun regulations. "There is an individual right to bear arms, but it's subject to commonsense regulation," he said.
Mentioning his home city, Obama said local entities should also have the ability to have their own more strict regulations.
"I think that local jurisdictions have the capacity to institute their own gun laws…The City of Chicago has gun laws, as does Washington, D.C.," he said. "I think the notion that somehow local jurisdictions can't initiate gun safety laws to deal with gang-bangers and random shootings on the street isn't born out by our Constitution."