April 8th, 2013
06:40 PM ET
1 year 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. chet

    Obama has no shame and continues to use parents whose children were slain by a madman to push his agenda. Shameful activities that if any other person did this kind of thing would be ripped from stem to stern by the media! These parents have not even had a moments peace to grieve and yet he continues to use their grief for his own theater productions.

    April 8, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Texas Crazyman

    Obama has no testicles to come to the Great State of Texas and talk smack about guns. Gov. Perry will throw him out of the state on his silly @ss. Hey Obama, why don't you go to your home state and to your hometown of Chicago and start there with gun legislation. Chicago has the worst gun deaths in the U.S. but you don't care about your Bros, eh Bro????
    Just keep spending our money and continue on your fundraisers.

    April 8, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. King Barry

    HOW about the economy, Barry?

    April 8, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. Charlie Johnson

    What should people expect?

    Economy still stinks, more Americans discouraged and leaving workforce, highest percentage of workforce on "disability" in country's history, ObamaCare turns out to RAISE prices while CUTTING services ...

    So what does the White House do? Time to continue stoking fears among the population so that more of the Bill of Rights can be weakened.

    No surprise – Bush used the very same formula.

    April 8, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Disgusting

    It shames me to call myself a "liberal" when it comes to 2A stuff. I support the left's social strategy (gay marriage, etc.) and many other things, but doesn't it strike anyone as odd that they want the American people disarmed so badly...??? Especially considering Obama lied about NDAA etc. And after the DHS and all the others bought up all that ammo?! Come on, it's becoming quite clear what his plans are in terms of laying groundwork for the presidents that follow.

    April 8, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. Kotawolf

    @Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    NO I would not support it, because it WON'T prevent anything.

    April 8, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. JJ

    Most of the gun violence and killing sprees have happened on Obama's watch and this tragedy is the fault of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. They have destroyed the economy especially for middle class families and this has created millions out of work, bankruptcy, extreme hardship, despair and desperation about their lives and the future of the country. There are so many people and families that are hurting because of Obama's draconian economic policies that some are at the breaking point of hopelessness and futility. This despair is pushing some people over the edge to commit these horrific killings. Also, the killers from Fort Hood, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Colorado Theatre and New Town were either registered as Democrats or voted for liberal Democrats.

    April 8, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. Robert Gavila

    Let's get "Bullet Control". Keep your guns. There's nothing in the Second Amendment that prevents tighter controls on bullets, is there?

    April 8, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. Randal Flag

    Just milk it like a cow. If you tug at the heart strings you can stop people from THINKING. You can guilt them into accepting bad laws. Just keep invoking the children.

    Now is the time to find all the crazy people with guns. Go to the gun range and find ANYBODY shooting. Ammo prices are so high that anyone shooting up scarce ammo MUST BE CRAZY!!

    April 8, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. rvoter

    Guess this is away for Obama to take your eyes of his trouble job plan that ain't working either.

    April 8, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Durka

    Anything politicians, be they Rs or Ds, want as badly as Obama and friends want gun control, can't be good for the people. If you don't believe that, you aren't paying attention.

    I wouldn't want you to have effective weapons either if I was part of a political/financial elite that spent the last century raping and pillaging your country.

    April 8, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Jon Dough

    Leave it alone. Enforce what you have. Listen when nut jobs are identified. Work on the economy.............

    April 8, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Neutral Observer

    It's pretty interesting that 60 min did a story on g-control just last night – almost as if its programming is being coordinated.

    April 8, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. James M. Atkinson

    The arms las that ere designed by the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Congress's and then validated by the 57th Congress, and then by the Supreme Court in 2008 and 2010, clearly stated not only a right of every citizen to be armed, but actually created a federal obligation of all citizens to be armed.

    The only exemptions to this are convicted felons, and people who have been adjudged insane (by a court), people who have been given a dishonorable discharge from the military, and so on. In fact once for a person to become a convicted felon, or get a dishonorable discharge form the military there is always a considerable record in the court that are used to feed into state databases, and which can be used at the gun stores to ensure that the store is not selling to convicted felons. It does not need to be a background check, but actually just a check to see if the potential buyer is a prohibited person. The same for people whom a court adjudged a person to be insane, and such a finding would be normally placed into state databases of prohibited persons as well.

    Actually, the easiest way to control the access of arms is to compel any firearms or ammunition, or anything that would be regarded as "arms" to produce a U.S. Passport at the gun store to prove that they are a U.S. Citizen, and then to produce a drivers license or other state issued ID that has their residential information on it, sufficient to be able to see if that person is actually prohibited from having arms. If they do not wish to produce a drivers license or other state issued ID on ethical grounds, then the store can scan in a thumb print of the buyer and check against known prohibited persons (people actually prohibited by operation of a formal judicial action) the same way.

    Law abiding citizens have both an obligations and a right to arms, to include anything that a U.S. Soldier is given to carry into battle. The law is actually quite explicit in this, and sadly, many citizens look at only tiny bits and pieces on the topic, and never really dig into the "entire body of law" in regards to arms being possessed by U.S. Citizens. Once they start "digging in" that are amazed to discover that hat the "full body of la" on the matter says is quite astonishing, and actually profoundly simple.

    A U.S. Citizen needs to start by reading the to Militia Acts of 1792, and then the Militia Act of 1795 which is what CREATED the "well regulated militia" spoken about in the 2nd Amendment.

    April 8, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. Dave

    We're on the brink of WW3 and this moron is still on Gun Control. Wow.

    April 8, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  16. JoeShmoe

    Background checks and mental health systems need to be funded and enforced. No one is forgetting about Newtown or Aurora. I have no mental health problems, I have always passed background checks, and I keep my weapons in a safe with a print scanner and my ammo in a different safe also with print scanner. How is punishing me going to make criminals follow laws that arent enforced and they already break? If you cut money from law enforcement agencies how are they supposed to be able to tackle such an immense job as getting illegal guns off the street, and making sure psychos get the help they need?

    April 8, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. ron

    obama and miden is responsible for newtown because they still have yet secured the schools..anyone, today, can just walk into a school, and do the same...what is the matter with these people...instead...they attack the 2nd amendment...a foreign army can invade us, the military fails...what are we suppose to protect ourselves with....these people scare me to death.....

    April 8, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. dd

    Obama is a hypocrite. His Chicago has tough gun laws and only the Democrat Drug Gangs have guns. They kill one innocent kid every week. Obama has never NEVER done a thing to protect inner city Blacks from his Drug Gangs. Yes, they are Democrat Drug Gangs – these killers would never vote Republican and are protected by Obama, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton if a cop shoots one!

    April 8, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. James

    Why can't Obama focus attention like this on the really important issues, like Global Warming?? After all, he did campaign on that issue, not gun control.

    April 8, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. BRB

    JJ – have you had your medications evaluated recently? What does Obama have to do with psychotic people going on killing sprees? The gun violence has been going on for decades due to gang nonsense, robberies, and ghetto killings for sport. Most killers are not registered for anything except violence, ignorance, and personal vendettas. You are a whack job and should be watched.

    April 8, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Henry Burkeesq

    Doesn't anyone realize that the criminal isn't going to a store to buy a gun. They will steal it or get it on the black market. The NRA guy tried to tell durbin that, but he was to focused on himself to believe it. And do we follow the federal or state gun laws. This thing has turned sour very fast.

    April 8, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. PoseLaa

    You can have my guns when you pry my cold dead fingers from them, and if you commienists have a problem with that then go back to Russia.

    April 8, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. John

    Wow, even Obama may feel bad he ordered the killing of 20 children if he doesn't get what he wanted.

    April 8, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. Things that make you go hmmm.........

    I love how they are trying to expand background checks on everyone and keep pushing mentally ill and criminals are the primary people it's for. The fact of the matter is, someone has to be registered into a system with a known issue for the background check to provide a denial of service for the request. If you have NO record or history of being mentally unstable but in fact are mentally unstable, how is a background check going to solve that issue?

    This is just another form of gun control. The government wants to track every gun owner and have a record of who to target in the event of a coup d'état.

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. JonfromLI

    Wake me up when any LEGITIMATE new laws come into affect. Obama knows nothing is going to get done because the gun nuts with the NRA won't let it happen. The good-for-nothings in Congress' pockets are lined with NRA money, so any proposal will be stricken from the record. Deep down people with a brain know the real agenda behind LaPierre and the NRA. It has NOTHING to do with the 2nd Amendment, safety, or protection and EVERYTHING to do with keeping the gun industry on top. It's similar to the healthcare industry. The GOP doesn't want universal Healthcare, not because of the notion of the "government watchdog", but because it would obviously put the $billion healthcare industry out of work. We're a capitalist nation, after all.

    April 8, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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