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. Nameno guns

    this is a friggin no-brainer...how can ppl be so obsessed with their stipid guns that tbey cant let good sense prevail...to hell with the anendment and the forefathers...thise poor kids deserve better...whats it gonna take for ppl to wake up...more background checks olease and restrict all semi auto long guns and rifles..

    April 8, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  2. allenwoll

    .
    Greg & Other GunNutz - I propose that a new nation be founded for you : Let us name it, appropriately "Paranoiastan". . Two guns in EVERY hand BY LAW !
    .
    The only firearm ever found under MY pillow will have been put there to protect ME from YOU ! !
    .

    April 8, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    No need to ask George Soros or Bloomberg , lets just ask the American people what they want without all this nonsense and fear from the gun lobby on right wing talk radio,

    April 8, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  4. Nanci Eisner

    Simple question to all the naysayers – if it was your 5- or 6-year old child, what would you want done. Let's try to make it a bit harder for the mentally ill & evil people to hurt anyone. If one human life is saved in 10 years, to me it is worth it. Just think about losing the person(s) you love the most...your child/grandchild/spouse/sibling...would you still want no background checks & would you still want high capacity magazines out there. Let's save just 10 people in the next century.

    April 8, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. Jc

    The reason the majority of Americans support the checks is because they don't understand it. Liberal and conservative politicians are asking the questions that the public should be asking, like how far do we really want to go with the background checks? Having checks for private sales and shows is a great idea in theory, but how on earth would you enforce it? Take private sales for instance. If I come to you and want to buy your gun, but we don't go through the background check process, how will the government know? The only way that they can know is by registering every weapon you own, which is legally fuzzy. Do we really want the government to know how many of each weapon we own? I don't know if that's really something they should know. If you want to do yearly checks on gun permits, that's fine, but I don't think the government should know exactly what guns you own. The reason the law is getting pushed back is because its a law for the sake of having a law. The Sandy Hook tragedy would still have happened exactly how it did even if Obama got all of his laws passed. There would be no difference. You wouldn't have saved one life in that school. The legislation has to be meaningful.

    April 8, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  6. communist47

    Convert your 401K into guns and ammo right now.

    April 8, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  7. Ron

    On the issue of background checks, the NRA doesn't even represent their own membership, certainly not the American people. So the Republicans and Democrats who are against background checks are representing the NRA, not the public. Why? Because of $$$.

    April 8, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  8. LiberalNutCase

    Master of the Red Herring-

    “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?”

    April 8, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  9. 00000001010101011001

    Obama does realize the guy who shot those kids stole the gun thus not having a background check. Also the fact that this became an issue after and not before this tragedy happened only proves democrats only love using situations like this for politics, he does not care one bit for those kids and family members.

    April 8, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  10. Reaganlives4ever

    What happened to the focus on menal health and video games? Media is pathetic covering up the adam lanza drawing up a plan like a video game. The coloradp guy was identified, reported...and nothing was done. But its the gun industry fault.

    April 8, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  11. NameDavid

    You know I want to know where you got 90% of Americans want gun control at? I dont my friends dont and all their ftienfs of frienfs dont so did you go door to door in one neighbor hood and asked 10 people? What a bunch of lies you tell shame on you!!!

    April 8, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  12. communist47

    With more gun control laws, do we really want to make this country like Mexico sooner than it already is? The Mexicans are taking over Texas, Arizona, California, etc without firing a single shot...
    All we need now is to take the guns off the hands of the good guys and law abiding citizens, then we will become a criminal run country like Mexico. Thanks to these liberal baffoonaries in Washington.

    April 8, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  13. John

    What online site sells guns without background checks? O.o I'd like to know because I haven't seen a single one yet. They all must be shipped to an FFL which must perform one to hand it to you. Same for Gun shows.

    As for Private Sales, how do you enforce that without registration, which would never fly in the first place?

    April 8, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  14. Anne

    I know Republicans=NRA(essentially.) Still, it never ceases to amaze that they couldn't care less about the people in Conn. All that matters(to them,) is their precious second amendment and the "right" to bear semi-automatic weapons. I don't question the second amendment itself. However, when it was written our forefathers couldn't have CONCEIVED the idea of larger guns with 30 round magazines.They weren't stupid. Things are a lot more advanced than they could have ever imagined.

    April 8, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  15. David

    And yet they are pro-choice. Weird

    April 8, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  16. mikemikemike3

    If you REGISTER... they will be eventually banned ! No knock on the door- just a certified letter to your home stating you will be (taxed, fines, fee'd, licensed, insuranced) for say.... $500 per gun (or $100 per magazine). The money will be automatically deducted from your paycheck/ govt benefit via the IRS UNLESS YOU CAN SHOW it was destoryed or turned in!!!!

    April 8, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  17. Boudreaux

    It is all about developing supporting arguments for Hillary in the next campaign. Keep that in mind.

    April 8, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  18. chet

    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.
    If that is the case then why was CT's new Laws pushed through so quickly without any regard to the input to Gun Right Advocates? Why is it that the people who voted didn't even read the Bill?
    Democrats seem to think that you just follow the lead of the Speaker/Governor/President and then later find out it was screwed up legislation!

    April 8, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  19. Syn Holliday

    Why doesn't Obama speak near a fatal drunk-driving accident site and call for the ban of alcohol? Drunk driving accidents kill MANY more kids than guns.

    April 8, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  20. mlemm

    I really don't see the problem with UBC's and gun registration. The idea that registration will lead to confiscation is a paranoid delusion at best. If gov't really want your gun they would take them house by house they wouldn't need some magic "list" to do it. The idea that your name not being on some gun purchase list is protecting you from having your gun's confiscated * if that's what the gov't really wanted * is ridiculous.

    Stricter gun laws will work if universally applied to the whole country and all the loop holes are closed. Claiming they don't work is like saying a boat full of holes won't float. As long as the NRA can poke lots of holes in gun laws they will always be able to claim they "don't work" as a reason not to have more laws and people fall most people seem seem to be gullible to fall for this line of logic.

    It's time to pass sensible gun laws, sure it make things more inconvenient for you to buy a gun but that's the point, to make the act of buying and owning guns more difficult to help prevent them falling into the wrong hands and easier to track down to the original buyer when then do.

    April 8, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  21. Don x

    Here's compromise. Give them what they want. Background checks. No high magazines. In exchange. No future changes unless a 90 vote Senate change. Have it that if a politician brings up new limits after this, he has to resign the same day. IF this is really all the democrats are after in their proposals, they would sign up immediately. But no one would sign this pledge. Because it's not where it ends...it's only a start.

    April 8, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  22. jack

    At least Obama has the "NADS" to try. The NRA owns congress and people who want to help can't due to their power over the lawmakers (aka BRIBES)

    April 8, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  23. 111Dave111

    Guns, Obstruction and Paranoia, today's GOP.

    Courage is a Vote in the House & Senate on Background Checks.

    April 8, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  24. hummm?

    Well maybe if you see yor six year old daugher with her face blown off, i bet you would feel differently

    April 8, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  25. jim

    Emotions are the best path to good policy. (eyes rolling)

    April 8, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
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