April 8th, 2013
06:40 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama scolds lawmakers for reticence in passing gun control

(CNN) - President Barack Obama angrily chided lawmakers reluctant to back gun control legislation on Monday, saying the overwhelming support for measures like universal background checks among the American people should force action in Congress.

The president was speaking in Hartford, not far from the site of the massacre in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Obama's calls for tighter gun control laws began in the aftermath of that shooting, though measures he proposed appear to be stalled in Congress.

His message on Monday was crafted as much for lawmakers as it was for the Newtown victims' families, who sat behind him on stage and who traveled to Washington with him on Air Force One to further lobby members of Congress on passing new gun laws.

MORE: Sandy Hook families to ride Air Force One to D.C., lobby Senate

"Newtown, we want you to know that we're here with you," Obama said. "We will not walk away from the promises we've made. We are as determined as ever to do what must be done. "

The American public must hold elected leaders to a higher standard going forward, Obama asserted, saying the issue should span the political divide.

“We’ve got to expect more from ourselves,” he said. “We’ve got to expect more from Congress. We’ve got to believe that every once and a while we set politics aside and we just do what’s right. We’ve got to believe that. And if you believe that we’ve got to stand up.”

The Senate is expected to begin debate as early as this week over proposed firearm legislation, but Democratic sources admit that the gun bill as currently written does not have the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

One proposal being considered would expand background checks to gun shows and Internet sales, but would not require checks for any other private transactions, according to multiple sources from both parties who are familiar with the talks. That falls short of the universal background checks favored by Obama.

MORE: Leading Senate talks falling short of universal background checks

The powerful National Rifle Association is staunchly opposed to the bill, and a group of Republican senators have already vowed to block the bill. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he would also join the Republican filibuster.

Yet recent polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans favor making a change to the background check system – a fact Obama raised Monday.

"If our democracy's working the way it's supposed to, and 90% agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy, you would think this would not be a heavy lift," Obama said, saying the Republicans who were vowing the filibuster the bill were, in essence, telling Americans that their "opinion doesn't matter."

“Why wouldn’t you want to make it for law enforcement to do their job?” Obama asked. “Why wouldn’t you want to make it harder for a dangerous person to get his or her hands on a gun? What’s more important to you, our children or an A grade from the gun lobby?”

Some states have gone ahead and passed their own gun control measures, including Connecticut, which expanded its background check system on Thursday among other tough gun laws.

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre blasted the new firearms restrictions, saying the only people who will follow the new regulations are law-abiding gun owners, not criminals.

"I think the problem with what Connecticut did is the criminals, the drug dealers, the people that are going to do horror and terror, they aren't going to cooperate," LaPierre said Thursday on Fox News. "I mean, all you're doing is making the law books bigger for the law-abiding people."

MORE: Malloy says NRA’s LaPierre acts like a circus clown

On the federal level, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is concerned that the Senate bill could lead to record keeping of gun owners and gun sales. He has been in talks with Democrats about a compromise, but with nothing promising on the horizon, Democrats have turned to another Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, according to sources familiar with the talks.

Obama's speech Monday night was the latest in the White House's ongoing push for Congress to pass gun legislation in the wake of a spate of mass shootings last year, including the Newtown massacre and the shooting at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater.

Vice President Joe Biden, who spearheaded a task force on coming up with recommendations for Congress, will deliver remarks Tuesday, further putting pressure on Capitol Hill as lawmakers return from their two-week recess.

– CNN's Dana Bash, Ted Barrett, Brianna Keilar, Paul Steinhauser, and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.

This week, CNN TV and CNN.com will take an in-depth look at “Guns Under Fire: A CNN Special Report On Background Checks.” On Tuesday night at 8 p.m., AC360 will debut an exclusive interview with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head two years ago in Arizona. On Wednesday, the network will look at gun control and background checks as Congress is expected to tackle the issue head-on in the coming days. Watch CNN TV and follow online at CNN.com or via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.


Filed under: Connecticut • Gun control • Gun rights • President Obama
soundoff (656 Responses)
  1. Donna

    Never let a tragedy or crisis go unused in order to further your far left agenda.... pathetic.

    April 8, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. smsirus

    During a Sun News Network segment on guns, Canadian anchor Brian Lilley issued a warning to Americans: “Registration will lead to confiscation. And if you don’t believe me, just look at what’s happened here.”

    One of the gun-control proposals put forth in America is a national database for all firearms to track the movement and sale of weapons. If this comes to fruition, Lilley argues, it will lead to confiscation. He then proceeds to discuss what happened in Canada with their national long-gun registry, which ultimately led to law abiding citizens having their weapons confiscated.

    April 8, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Really? When the polls seem to indicate that there is over 80% approval, then why block something? Debate and let it have the day in the sunshine. To block it without any thought seems like they are worried that they will lose. One of the things that needs to be done is to reduce the threshold for getting a firearms conviction so that the rules on the books can be better enforced as well. The background check should be done for all weapons transfers. We don't want a grandparent to be totally unaware that a firearm shouldn't handed down to a grandchild who has either convictions for crimes or is mentally questionable.

    April 8, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Name lynn

    No one can stop guns from getting into peoples hands, nor even the back ground check is no good an the nra thats no good nothing congress, white house leaders, republicans nor democrates cant do nothing. People i know your trying very hard getting guns off the street, an stop all the shooting an killings.

    April 8, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- TAKE BACK THE HOUSE

    Donna
    Never let a tragedy or crisis go unused in order to further your far left agenda.... pathetic.
    --------------------------------------------
    This is a crisis that can't go unresolved. So you must be among the 10% of Amurikans who don't support background checks.

    April 8, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. just sayin

    smsirus
    During a Sun News Network segment on guns, Canadian anchor Brian Lilley issued a warning to Americans: “Registration will lead to confiscation. And if you don’t believe me, just look at what’s happened here.”
    One of the gun-control proposals put forth in America is a national database for all firearms to track the movement and sale of weapons. If this comes to fruition, Lilley argues, it will lead to confiscation. He then proceeds to discuss what happened in Canada with their national long-gun registry, which ultimately led to law abiding citizens having their weapons confiscated.
    ---

    but we have been reassured by the leftist democrats that this will not be the case. do you mean they are lying to us? i mean after all they gave us the affordable care act that is now making our healthcare unaffordable so maybe we should not believe them and heed your words.

    April 8, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. ghostriter

    Smsirus, we aren't Canadians. Americans wouldn't vote for confiscation, Americans wouldn't support it and I'd go a step further and say that Americans wouldn't participate in unarming otherwise legal citizens.

    The slippery slope tactic is getting old. And it assumes alot will happen. That is not the case.

    April 8, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. ghostriter

    Whine LaPew....errr....Wayne LaPierre really needs to sit in the corner for the next two years. His arguments are fundamentally stupid and appeal only to the fundamentally stupid. Which is why he's a fave for conservatives.

    April 8, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  9. brasstacs

    None of the gun control proposals would have prevented the horrific Sandy Hook shooting...And Obama and the media are deceitfully using the Sand Hook tragedy as a propaganda tool,and are using the family members of the victims as props,for their anti gun, anti 2nd amendment agenda...Pathetic

    April 8, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "Never let a tragedy or crisis go unused in order to further your far left agenda.... pathetic."

    Riiight...and the NRA didn't respond to the public outrage over Newtown by reducing its membership fees by 70% in order to drum up a whole bunch of new members so they could (a) claim that new membership rose in response to talk of gun control and (b) raise funding for haranguing anyone who wants to respond responsibly for the overwhelming public demand for better background checks and other sensible measures. The NRA didn't have a Newtown father show up at one of their own anti-gun-control campaign events. The NRA hasn't spent millions and millions of dollars in response to Newtown trying to actually use it to REDUCE already existing gun control laws and create an entirely new market for gun sales (i.e., teachers) with ridiculous, ideologically stilted, misinformation campaigning and fake "studies." No no...they've done none of that....

    Oh wait...

    April 8, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Donna

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- TAKE BACK THE HOUSE
    Donna
    Never let a tragedy or crisis go unused in order to further your far left agenda.... pathetic.
    --------------–
    This is a crisis that can't go unresolved. So you must be among the 10% of Amurikans who don't support background checks.
    ----

    There are ALREADY background checks, so whther I support them or not irrelevant. What good does a background check do if the information needed to make a good decision is NOT in the system? Why are the Democrats and Obama lying to the American people about what the real problem is and how to fix it? Until medical records are opened up and psychiatric patients required to register with the government, background checks will never work.

    In the Newtown case, NONE of the proposed "solutions" would have made a difference because his mother was irresponsible in providing access to guns to a known mentally ill person. And she paid for that mistake with her life and unfortunately many others did too. Had she been required to register her son as mentally ill and dangerous, background checks would have stopped him from buying guns, which he didn't have to do in his case.

    In the movie theater case, the shooter WAS indentified as being dangerous to himself and others and yet police failed to act. And again, he was not in the system as a mentally deranged person that was a danger.

    So when will Democrats offer REAL solutions instead of just pushing for more and more laws that only infringe on law abiding citizens? Answer: Never.

    April 8, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. ghostriter

    "I think the problem with what Connecticut did is the criminals, the drug dealers, the people that are going to do horror and terror, they aren't going to cooperate," LaPierre said Thursday on Fox News. "I mean, all you're doing is making the law books bigger for the law-abiding people."

    Ummm.....which laws do criminals follow? Since when do we debate laws based on whether or not criminals will follow them? Laws generally have two parts: What the rule is and the punishment. What conservatives seem to miss is that breaking said law is reason for a conviction. Giving law enforcement another tool in which to keep our streets safe. Why is this so hard to understand?

    I forgot. Conservatives will forsake even their own religion if it means having something about Obama that they can complain about.

    April 8, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  13. ghostriter

    brasstacs, none of the NRA's proposals would have prevented Columbine. Especially since I believe they had a guard or two on the scene. Nor would it have stopped the shootings in Colorado as the NRA has yet to propose putting guards in movie theaters yet. Nor would it have stopped the shootings on college campuses as there has yet to be a proposal on putting guards on campuses.

    So if we are going to point out the flaws in proposed laws......maybe you should pay a bit more attention to the proverbial plank in your own eye.

    April 8, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Ferret out the BS

    First sensible statement out of John McCains mouth in quite some time.

    April 8, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. Gregory M. Newbold

    Over the span of the last 10 years, while we spent BILLIONS of dollars to get him, Osama bin Laden killed about 4,000 Americans. The entire country mobilized against that threat. Death by Gun kills many times more people and we do nothing about it. This isn`t Mr. Obama`s responsibility solely . . . it`s everyone`s.

    April 8, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    This nation needs GUN-BAN LAWS. Period.

    April 8, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. Ferret out the BS

    The NRA reminds me of the story of Henny Penny......"the sky is falling, the sky is falling."

    April 8, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. just askin

    i certainly hope that obama and his security detail left all their weapons, (true automatics no doubt) locked up back in washington. we wouldn't want those dangerous guns jumping out of their holsters and gunning down innocent people.

    April 8, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Zondar

    "Hurricane Katrina Door to Door Firearms Confiscation" – that is what you need to go search Youtube for, ghostriter. It's an ABC News piece covering the illegal forcible confiscation.

    You say that it won't happen here, but it already has. During a natural disaster, when central services have broken down, is the time a person needs their self-defense the most. And that's exactly when the New Orleans PD and National Guard troops did.

    You go ahead and believe that it hasn't happened and that it could never happen, but many of us know it's already happened. That's why we will never trust the government with a list of guns and gun owners. Ever.

    April 8, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- TAKE BACK THE HOUSE

    Donna
    Never let a tragedy or crisis go unused in order to further your far left agenda.... pathetic.
    --------------–
    This is a crisis that can't go unresolved. So you must be among the 10% of Amurikans who don't support background checks.
    ------
    Hey Dutch – how to you reconcile mental health background checks with HIPAA privacy laws? Hey, I support background checks, but isn't this a dilemma?

    April 8, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    New study shows that the vast majority of Americans believe existing gun laws are far more restrictive than they actually are. Report on THAT, CNN. The issue is not enforcement. The issue is giving law enforcement something to enforce in the first place. When you have people on the terror watchlist...hundreds of them...proving able to waltz into a gun shop and buy one after a background check, THERE IS A FREEKIN PROBLEM WITH THE SYSTEMS THAT ARE IN PLACE.

    April 8, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. clarence

    The only way to control .guns is to make the gun owner of record responsible . People need to secure their guns so that mentaly ill people can't get them. Even if they have to put them in a safe within another safe and bury it in the ground!

    April 8, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. byrd29

    Never let a tragedy or crisis go unused in order to further your far left agenda.... pathetic.

    .........................................................................................................
    Oh...so if some derranged nut shot a family member because he bought a rifle at a gunshow in another state because he didnt have to worry about a background check....that would be ok...

    April 8, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "how to you reconcile mental health background checks with HIPAA privacy laws?"

    With legislation. Seriously....do you think Congress can't draft something that changes HIPPAA and accounts for any mental health reporting requirements or strengthens the ability of mental health professionals and law enforcement to get people committed etc.? You're just being deliberately obtuse. Congress could certainly do so. The problem is that some of them just don't want to or even want to try because they don't want to lose a source of campaign donations. Instead, they'll find ways to increase gun manufacture and sales via defense contracts and wars of convenience...or perhaps by proposing that we "arm the opposition" here or there around the world since it worked so well when we did that for the Taliban under Ronny Raygunz.

    April 8, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Mohamed

    Obama is still campaigning – well, I guess it's better that he isn't in DC to try to pass new taxes – no legislation's gonna pass the Senate anyway...

    April 8, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27