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President Obama recruits police to gun debate

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday again pressured Congress to pass tough gun legislation, seeking help from law enforcement leaders in three communities that have suffered the horrors of mass shootings.

At a White House meeting, Obama said that no group is more important in the gun debate and he said he recognizes the issue ‘‘elicits a lot of passion all across the country.’’

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But Obama also said he believes Congress will respond to appeals from police.

‘‘Hopefully if law enforcement officials who are dealing with this stuff every single day can come to some basic consensus in terms of steps that we need to take,’’ he said, ‘‘Congress is going to be paying attention to them, and we’ll be able to make progress.’’

The president’s meeting comes as he tries to build support for gun control legislation that will be difficult to get through Congress.

He urged Congress to pass an assault weapons ban, limit high capacity magazines, and require universal background checks.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina has indicated he will be using the power of the president’s still-intact political organization to mobilize support for the legislation.

Obama met in the Roosevelt Room with the heads of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs Association and members of his Cabinet.

Among the chiefs at the meeting were those who responded to the worst US shootings of 2012 — Aurora, Colo., where 12 were killed in July; Oak Creek, Wis., where six died in a Sikh temple assault; and Newtown, Conn., the scene of the rampage that left 20 first-graders and seven adults dead.

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