President Obama hailed the nation’s police force as America at “its best and its bravest” Saturday, while continuing his push for tougher gun laws.

At an event honoring the nation’s top cops, Obama reiterated his call for “common sense steps” to better control the flow of guns, in part to protect the officers joining him at the White House.

He said Washington had to make it “harder for criminals to get their hands on lethal weapons.”

An effort in the Senate to pass new gun control laws in the wake of the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, has fizzled, but lawmakers insist they will continue working on the issue.