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. Kevin

    As an American, I believe strangers should leave me alone, just like I leave others alone and happily mind my own business. That means, I don't care if you own a gun, are gay, have an abortion, etc. as long as it doesn't negatively affect me, which it won't. Just like I do not owe you any money for charity.

    April 8, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  2. Jimh77

    Smoke and mirrors. When do the snakes come out along with the Snake Oils?

    April 8, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  3. Thomas Jefferson

    So what's wrong with simple background checks with all gun sales including gun shows? We do a background check when you become a naturalized citizen.

    April 8, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  4. DRTSAT

    MR. President, you have not provided information as to why you need to limit possession of magazines or sporting rifles for those who are honest, safe gun owners. All the outrage over the shootings seems to be misdirected. I'm curious, and please, at some point, let us know, exactly how this will get the guns out of the criminal hands.

    April 8, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. Mayfray

    The president messed up big time giving this to Dianne Feinstein who went crazy on it and got nothing. We could have had background checks two months ago but now we're back to square one. Stupid. Leaderless nonsense.

    April 8, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  6. Billy Poole

    they want to take away our gun's, mean while, North Korea is aiming their bombs at us. the same thing what Hitler did, he disarmed all of the people in his country during WWII. The same thing here is going to happen, the US Government disarms everyone, then lock up America.

    April 8, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. scott

    triggers don't pull fingers

    April 8, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. Sunder

    all they have to say is freedom , freedom to buy guns where ever and whoever from ...

    April 8, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  9. Snyphilis

    Standing on the graves of dead children to further your agenda, Obama. Sad to say it doesn't surprise me. You are a bottom feeder. You're worse than Bush, worst we've ever had. I hope everything you have fails you in the end.

    April 8, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  10. Chuck

    Obama. The campaigner-in-chief.

    April 8, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  11. scott

    Do they green screen the people who supposedly stand behind this man.

    April 8, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. mike

    I promise every law maker that votes for this will be out the next round. Harry Reid are you ready for an early retirement? I know the Dems are going to pay and pay dearly the next round. Count on it!

    April 8, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. Sculptordad

    Disgusting pandering, filthy.

    April 8, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  14. advocatusdiaboli

    Absolutely right, Greg. And we we are right to repel this attack on our liberty and the means by which it was secured and the means by which it will be defended.

    April 8, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  15. Black Hand

    Pro-Abortion, Anti-Guns or Anti-Abortion, Pro-Guns...either way you choose is ironic. One is freedom of choice while the other infringes on that very same freedom. Free will is our own, and your opinion is just that: yours. And is ment only for you. Anything more takes with it our liberty. Didn't we fight England for this very same liberty we are so freely willing to just give away? Instead of punishing all for the sins of a few, why not punish the few for the liberty of all?

    April 8, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  16. Frank Stoddard

    Maybe some day the second amendment will be amended. After all Jesus did not write it!

    April 8, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  17. Chris

    Republicans are cowards. Stand up for what you believe in. Let us hear your explanation.

    April 8, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. JerryT

    Obama had an anti second amendment agenda before he ever took office, this was pointed out by the nra numerous times as he was seeking the nomination. The newtown tradgedy favorably played into and helped what he was planning all alone. This ultra liberal, community organizer, is a real snake in the grass.

    April 8, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  19. e320dq

    Politicians are a joke – down there with personal injury lawyers – zero ethics, morals and integrity

    April 8, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  20. John Maroney

    Are people really so naive to think that a gun ban will do anything but waste many and disarm law abiding citizens? The ignorance of this country will be the death of freedom.

    April 8, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  21. Informed citizen

    Where I live Law enforcement response time is 45 to 60 minutes.
    The anti gunners have recommended that I defecate or urinate on the attacker. Beiden recommended firing a shotgun through the door.. What???

    April 8, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  22. Lee

    How hard is it to under stand
    1. "shall not be infringed."
    and
    2. "the right of the people" Notice it didn't say militia? Remember, We the People.

    Don't like guns? Don't buy them.

    April 8, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  23. DPB

    This president has NO SHAME

    April 8, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  24. Mike

    Someone tell the president this is not a dictatorship. He doesn't get to make all the calls. I'm not registering my guns with the government. I'll take a background check any day but until that isn't tied to a registry, I'm out.

    April 8, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  25. Woof

    how disgusting is it that Obama uses these poor parents in Newtown as his political props.

    and then a couple of these "lucky" parents get to take a ride on AF1.

    Obama. what a dusgusting human being.

    April 8, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
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