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. USVET

    Hasn't Obama read the NY gun law or the one proposed in Missouri? Both of them effecitvely deprive lawful citizens of the right to own firearms in their own homes. Everytime he speaks, he lies. Has he know ethics? None of this current activity will stop one life from being taken since murders can be committed multple ways, including mass murders. The sad part is that he even admitted that violence can't be stopped. Yet, he continues his mis-guided agenda.

    April 8, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. stan Hassebrock

    You guys sleep with your guns tonight , I"ll sleep with my wife.

    April 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. On Target

    How about putting an effort on Street Gang violence and the Drug trade that makes up 80% of the gun violence...

    April 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. pablo

    We should outlaw walls of dirt and construction sites just like we should outlaw guns... if it saves just even 1 child's life it's worth it remember?

    April 8, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Brian

    Wow, the hired NRA commentors are out in full force today. You gun nuts are completely crazy. You are probably against background checks because you are too mentally ill to own a gun.

    And Obama isn't taking advantage of these kids. The parents are the ones who want the new gun control laws. He agrees with the parents who lost children that we should be able to do something to help lower gun deaths.

    But you NRA sickos and apologists will do anything not even getting that the NRA only cares about profit and selling guns. They don't care about the 2nd ammendment, or people getting killed....as long as you idiots keep buying gun, they are laughing all the way to the bank. Sheep.

    April 8, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. riiiiiii

    Sorry Obama. This is one of those issues i vehemently disagree with you about. It strikes me as intrusive, and sinister, this latest wave of gun control pushing. Yes, bad things will happen with guns, they always will, they always have. No, that does not mean the right of the people to keep and bare arms should be restricted or watered down in any way shape or form. That right is there to protect us from you Mr. President, and those joining you on capital hill, so it's offensive to see the lot of you telling us it needs to be restricted. This has nothing to do with hunting, self defense, crime rates, or tragedies. Read the 2nd amendment again.

    April 8, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. billybill

    @Brian, if someone has never sought out very expensive mental health treatments how would a background check find them? Also, when you representatives attempt to add further legislation onto this bill do not be surprised that it fails miserably. Lots of people support background checks as a generic term, not everyone can agree on what those checks should and should not include, or how to go about getting that information. Would you see doctor patient privilege compromised for anyone seeking mental health treatment or only for those whose doctors deem them a risk? The issue is not so cut and dry as you seem to want it to be.

    April 8, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. mogran

    Anti-gun weirdos are out in big numbers I see...they consistently use ANY issue available to try to forward their nonsense fear of guns...what total drivel!

    April 8, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Drew

    @Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer
    This argument of a shooting rampage is invalid. The SLWB of 1994 – 2004 Did nothing to stop or slow down the 2 in Columbine, or in Cleveland who both used the "Tec 9" Now correct me if I am wrong, but I doubt those were purchased before 1994 that would have put them at 12 or 13 years old. Not sure haven't looked up when they were purchased. As for "shooting rampages" Feinstiens ALMOST dream world South Korea is home of the Highest number (I can't say worst human life can't be quantified in numbers) Highest death toll rampage by a single shooter in 1982 with the deaths of 56 people. 56 unarmmed people against an evil cop. Was he crazy? Hardly, he was calculating enough to take out the switch board operator in each small town he shot up BEFORE starting so no one could call other police who are the only ones besides military to get to keep guns. Not even hunters, they have to keep them in police lock up. I say Feinstiens ALMOST dream world because politicians can't carry (that I know of) in S Korea. She banned all pistols and handguns in SF durring her stent as mayor except for police and military while she (mayor not police not military) conceal carried her S&W.

    April 8, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Readn

    So when this hollywood charade passes.. And there is another 'crime' incident...

    The only thIng left.... CONFISCATION!
    Nooooo, these lists wont lead to that...and i have real estate on the moon for sale.

    This is 'all about' prepatory actions for confiscation.

    April 8, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. j

    People against the NRA and background checks who defend Obama need to wake up...this is only a taste of things to come, you blind fools...

    April 8, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. Blah Blah

    why doesn't he go to his hometown of Chicago where gun crime is high??? Oh wait...

    April 8, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. Joe Craig

    Obama is a retard.

    April 8, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Jesse

    If you want to have universal background checks then guess what do away with form 4474's and the backdoor registration. I walk into a gun shop and pass a background check there is no need for the government to know what I buy.

    April 8, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. casey aliniour

    we dont need a bigger govt! leave us and our freedoms alone!

    April 8, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Capt_Bogart

    I am trying to figure out when the last time was that the government banned cars for drunk driving.

    April 8, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. Jesse

    Just so people know a large majority of the 850,000 Law Enforcement Officers as well as a large majority of military members are NRA, SAF, NAGR members. You call the NRA nuts but its mace up of mostly cops!

    April 8, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. Chilly Willy

    The sequester hasn't hurt Obama's traveling budget I see. Out to California for fundraising, stopping by Denver on the way, and now he's in Connecticut. I hope any and all federal gun control legislation fails. Feel good legislation, nothing more.

    April 8, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. awaiting moderation

    Let him pitch and then ask him if we need to be in the same fix as the North Korean peasants.Unarmed and at the mercy of the world and a government that has been for 4 1/2 years requiring bigger britches.

    April 8, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  20. kathy/Minnesota

    The GOP will regret their hard line stance on "GUN SAFETY" who do they really care about....the NRA and their job, or "DEAD BABIES?".......sick and disgusting!!!!

    April 8, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. awaiting moderation

    That figures.Protect his crazy ways of getting this country in deeper all over the world.All we heard before he rose to the throne was, we were in too many wars.

    April 8, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. Taxpayer

    I have three guns at home, and I could care less whether Obama stuffs stricter background checks and regs on magazines down our throats. What irritates me is the amount of money we taxpayers are spending so this guy can travel around the country in air force one with his entourage. And he's traveling to places that have already passed stricter gun control laws like Colorado. If you haven't heard, Mr. President, we now have sequestration, your idea, so try cutting back on your expenses, instead of "making it hurt" for everyone else.

    April 8, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Shane

    I think people get too personal about this. As a realist, just wait 2 years. AR's will still be around and ammo will be "affordable" again. I'll still be paying my NRA dues. CNN is just trying to drum up controversy so everyone reads this. As for sleeping with our guns. C'mon man you're only seeing the "gun nuts" you want to see and ignoring the majority of gun owners who are generally sensible and respectful people. Go to a gun range (on a weekend) and meet some.

    April 8, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  24. sandcanyongal

    When Obama put down the military guns that are killing innocent citizens around the world, police, social security office guns I'll gladly give up mine. ATF officers are selling guns to the Mexican gun cartels. Watch some of the violent movies put out by Hollywood and it's no wonder people are killing everyone and kids think its the way to solve their kiddy issues. Washington, I challenge you to put your guns away permanently, domestically and and abroad.

    April 8, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. crimsonmafia

    I think this is a great Idea, if we could get criminals to fill out back ground checks prior to selling them the guns. Than we could actually get to them, and arrest them, prior to them committing the crime. Why don’t we do background checks when buying Auto's also, this way if a car Theft filled one out, than we could arrest him before he steals another car. Or when opening a checking account, we could do a background check, and catch all the bank thefts, prior to them robbing another bank. Why would this not work?

    April 8, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 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