ABC News' Jonathan Karl asked President Obama at today's White House news conference about what he thinks about sky-high gun sales in the United States. Karl pointed out that even in Connecticut, applications for gun permits have increased since the Newtown school attack.

The president blamed pro-gun groups, like the NRA, for trying to make people fearful of a scenario in which the federal government will take away their guns. He said that it is hard for anyone to argue that Americans have less rights when it comes to gun ownership, compared to when he took office.

"Those who oppose any common sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government is about to

take all your guns away. There's probably an economic element to that; it obviously is good for business. But I think that those of us who look at this problem have repeatedly said that responsible gun owners, people who have a gun for protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship, they don't have anything to worry about," said Obama.

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He defended the gun violence task force being headed by Vice President Joe Biden, saying they are not looking to have a debate over the Second Amendment.

"The issue is are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can't walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children .... in a shockingly rapid fashion. Surely we can do something about that. But part of the challenge that we confront is that even the slightest hint of some sensible, responsible legislation in this area fans this notion that somehow 'here it comes' and that everybody's guns are going to be taken away. It's unfortunate that that's the case," said Obama.

Watch the exchange: