WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says gun ownership is a very divisive issue because Americans in urban and rural areas live in different realities.

Speaking at a CNN town hall on gun violence in America, Obama says he can understand why an Iowan living in a rural area would want to own a gun for protection, while gun ownership in Chicago can be more dangerous.

Obama says first lady Michelle Obama told him she would want a shotgun or a rifle for protection if she lived in an isolated area. He said: "She was absolutely right."

Obama is trying to make the case for tightening gun control rules, while fighting claims by opponents of such regulations that he's trying to take away people's Second Amendment rights.

President Barack Obama says he will not vote for any candidate, even a Democrat, who does not support what he calls "commonsense gun reform."

Obama is making the demand in an op-ed published Thursday on The New York Times' website.

The president says 90 percent of Americans support such reform and that if they join him, the U.S. "will elect the leadership we deserve."
    
The Times published the essay just before Obama was scheduled to take questions at a televised town hall meeting on gun violence.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama hopes the CNN-hosted forum will spur a "serious conversation" about the Second Amendment, as well as the administration's new push to tighten gun control rules.