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. Just Me

    “But I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

    “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein

    April 8, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. Tom

    Those who blame the NRA and pretend that some small and powerful group is guilty, should consider that 50 million of your fellow citizens own guns and it is WE, who you are attacking. Not some special interest corporate group. As for owning the Newtown parents a vote, I as a gun owner did not cause the terrible tragedy and I own them nothing. I feel deep sadness for what happened but it was a crazy person who did that, not I.

    April 8, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  3. Mike M

    I wonder if Obama is ever going to come in off the campaign trail and actually start being president, instead of running for it.

    April 8, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  4. TexDoc

    We don't need national solutions to this problem. The people of New York shouldn't force a solution on Texas. Nor should the people of Texas demand the people of Connecticut repeal their restrictions. Keep the feds out of it and let each state decide for itself it's own crime laws.

    April 8, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  5. Jim

    When all those families have served their purpose and return to Connecticut, will they travel at taxpayer expense, Democratic Party expense, their own expense, or lobbyist expense? If it's at taxpayer expense, does this mean the Sequester is over?

    April 8, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  6. anne

    no one owes anyone anything, Obama. But you will never let a crisis go to waste. You should be ashamed of yourself!

    April 8, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  7. Tychi

    You want to see the anti-Christ ... look at Wayne LaPierre. Very few more evil person in America. There may be mass killers and children killers but LaPierre is an enabler. He encourages the means to do it.

    April 8, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  8. Sharrr

    What is wrong with a man (bo) who uses cops as props, parents of dead children as props, all of these props. It is manipulative and disgusting. What about Bill Gwaltney? Look him up. What about Donald Young? Look him up. What about Tony Rezko and his "dead relatives"? Look them up. What about real estate fraud with Rezko? Look that up. What about the illegal social security number bo has from Conn.? Look it up. What about the fast and furious lies? Look it up. What about Holder who has run explosives (Okla. City), guns (dead border agent)? Look his past up. What about the Benghazi lies? Look it up. What about patient dumping in Chicago by mo? Look it up. What about attending college on a foreign scholarship? Look it up. What about all of the arm-twisting, payola, back-room deals in connection with the health plan? Look it up. There is a common thread here – deceit, lying, manipulating, fraud, more lying, mocking Americans, more lying. Well you get the drift. This entire prezidency is a debauchery.

    April 8, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  9. sanity

    All Harry Reid has to do is call for a vote, right, Obama?

    April 8, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  10. Chris

    Our President is SICK, he's playing politician again and cares nothing about anyone except those ignorants who voted him into office for their Obamaphone and free minutes, oh yeah, and welfare, and food stamps, and public housing, and the killing goes on in Chicago by the hundreds every year.

    April 8, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. bryan

    he;s gonna have to launch another false flag.

    April 8, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  12. Liz the First

    When did we become a country that loves its guns more than its children??? is congress going to listen to the will of the vast majority of citizens who want universal background checks and bans on large magazines, or is it going to pander to the paranoid gun nuts who have a pathalogical fear of the government? any congressperson who votes against this commonsense measure for the protection of our precious children needs to be voted out.

    April 8, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  13. glorydays

    We register drivers and cars for heavens sake.

    April 8, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. glenview0818

    MOST guns used in fatal shootings are not assault weapons and are "hand guns" acquired from a "friend or relative", according to confirmed FBI statistics. So what are we doing here, I want something done to stop the murders just like everyone else, but this is a stupid waste of time. Lets try something novel, like addressing the issues at hand and not what buys airtime and votes. Chicago is a war zone and blaming the surrounding states and yet those states are not having the problems in their large cities, so what is the deal Mr President in your home city?

    April 8, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. JDalco

    Gun rights are civil rights. You don't get a vote on my rights

    April 8, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  16. Nate

    Tougher on law enforcement? How exactly is it harder on them? Criminals will still have higher capacity semi-auto guns, all you will accomplish is registration of guns for a later date to confisticate them when they are outlawed 5 ...10... Or 20 years from now.

    So you want cops and criminals to have better weapons than honest citizens? Why? We saw what happened in California when cops get scared.....

    April 8, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. What?

    I thought the Democrats held a majority in the Senate and would deliver whatever Obama wanted. What's happening here? It's not exactly clear. There's a man without a gun over there telling me I need to beware!

    April 8, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  18. Green Oak

    On September 9th 2008 Obama said this: "I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away. I am not going to take your guns away" You can take that for what you think it is worth.

    April 8, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  19. Ambrose

    Greg

    Gun registration in Canada works. Firearm homicide rate in canada is less than a sixth that of the US. Many live WERE saved.

    April 8, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  20. Brian

    We need more gun laws so that the criminals and felons will follow the rules!

    April 8, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  21. Dear Kenyan Leader

    The Obamaunists are counting on an outcome different than the one that befell the Redcoats when they tried to take Americans guns. Alas, history will most likely repeat itself.

    April 8, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  22. Lee

    Gun control is using both hands.

    April 8, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  23. Jimh77

    Wrong Mr. Obama, Get your but back to work on a budget for the American Families that are struggling all across this Country and get a realistic budget that works for the middle class and lower class and protect our elderly most of who have fought in more wars than they can count. This gun control is going nowhere. Families have to keep the weapons away from those with mental issues. Tragedy happens. Taking everyones guns away, reducing the size of clips will have 0 impact. Now, get back to the dam budget and do your job. Leave the 2nd amendment alone and move on to solving our fiscal problems and NO MORE VACATIONS for YOU or anyone else till the budget is solved.

    April 8, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  24. Shawn

    Yea, most Americans (including me) support universal background checks, but that doesn't mean we support all the other bans you are trying to include along with it.

    If you want to pass legislation that deals ONLY with background checks, then write it up and it will get a vote.

    April 8, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. UpsetVoter

    Background checks are a good idea. I do not think the President is correct when he says 90% are in favor but I believe a super majority (more than 60%) are in favor. I really disagree with the presidents continuous campaign mode at great taxpayer expense. Every time a president travels it is costing the taxpayers millions of extra dollars and this president does not appear to care. Do you know how many homeless people could get solid shelter and an address from which to get a job with the amount of money that the president wastes?

    April 8, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
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