(REUTERS) - President Barack Obama told police chiefs Tuesday that stricter gun control would reduce the number of police officers shot down on U.S. streets, in his latest call for reform of laws that govern the use of firearms in America.
Mr Obama spoke at a major conference of police chiefs during a turbulent time for the law enforcement community, with a new U.S. Justice Department report expected to be issued at the gathering on ambush attacks on police.
"It's time to be honest: fewer gun safety laws don't mean more freedom, they mean more fallen officers. They mean more grieving families, and more Americans terrified that they or their loved ones could be next," Mr Obama said.
Mr Obama said, "Please do not believe this notion that somehow I am out to take everybody's guns away, every time a mass shooting happens one of the saddest ironies that suddenly the purchase of firearms and ammunition jumps up, because folks are scared into thinking that Obama is going to use this as an excuse to take away our Second Amendments rights - nobody is doing that."
A spate of high profile deaths of black men at the hands of police in Missouri, New York and elsewhere, coupled with a spiraling number of police deaths, has rocked the law enforcement community and highlighted racial disparities.
A dozen police officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter this year resulting from shootings.
That is an unusually high number, up from an average of about five a year from 2005 to 2014, according to academic research.
The Justice Department released a report at the conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police on ambush attacks against police.
It said mental illness and extremist ideologies play key roles in attacks, which have been rising since 2005, though there are fewer than in the 1990s.