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. eddhur

    i hate to see him up there praying on the people sorrow using it for political purpose he has cause there to be more guns sold than every

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

    Funny, I don't see Obama addressing these ssues:

    – 75% of the world's weapons export is done by the U.S. Government. Death toll, millions.
    – Deporting all 12 million illegal immigrants, who have broken a federal law, instead he is trying to give them amnesty.
    – Why politicians get a pension equal to their pay only after a few year while the rest of us have to fend for ourselves with our 401k.
    – 16 Trillion dollar deficit (over 200 trillion in liabilities), he takes about cuts...but where is the money really going to?

    Funny, when it comes to taking away our rights – our 'God-given rights' per the founding forefathers....Obama and the new media outlet are quick to jump on the wagon. Every other issue...which should be a higher priority or taking a backseat.

    Makes me wonder if there's a hidden agenda since the government seems so eager and quick to act on gun control.

    April 8, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  3. BTLProd

    Hey Mr. President,
    Get back to Washington DC and do your job. The Election is over. You can't run again. Stop Campaigning and start, at least, acting like a President.

    Besides it's the Economy stupid.

    April 8, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  4. Really

    Thank you NRA. You have our support:) PeaceAll.

    April 8, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  5. John La Rock

    Give the gun control bill to the people to vote on. Let's take it out of congress and let us cast our votes.
    that's America. For the people.

    April 8, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  6. Anthony

    Obama is nothing more than a dictator if its not the guns its the Obama care or the illegals who take jobs from natuual born citzens I know some will not lower themselve to doing labor if you need money you need to humble yourself.Obama has ruined this country and wanted another term to turn it into a scoialist way of life he is looking for anyway to take more money out the Americans who where born here.

    April 8, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  7. kevin

    Why doesnt Obama go down south and preach about gun control ..... I dont think he has the balls

    April 8, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  8. Namemicmacman

    anyone opposed to universal background checks has something to hide no? otherwise why worry. i have nothing to hide, check me, then you can allow me to purchase my guns. registration becomes unecessary after backgroung checks. you allready know who purchased what during the background check....duuuuuhhhh

    April 8, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  9. Bro awe

    Do me a favor and stay far away from my 2nd amendment rights. I honestly don't even know if Sandy Hook was a staged event or not. The government is so manipulative I wouldn't put it past them and the media. I don't trust the government or the conglomerate media. Sorry folks.

    April 8, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  10. Lex

    Am I dreaming or don't we already have gun laws? High fructose corn syrup kills five times more people each year than gun related crimes. How about use our efforts to help the homeless and create jobs. I remember years ago when people needed jobs the administration paid folks to plant trees and what of all the bridges in need of repair. I think our time and money could be better spent than to make more gun laws for 300 million people because of less than 9,000 gun related deaths each year. We all know it takes guns out of the law abiding citizens hands and criminals will continue to get them.

    April 8, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  11. mogran

    There'll be a long, long uphll battle to ever take our 2nd Amendment rights away from us in my lifetime...I will remember the name of any Missouri legislator who votes for such action and make sure I vote my for my rights in addition to making sure everybody I know is aware of their name!

    April 8, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  12. James Foley

    @nugun... you do it for many things I'm sure, but I guarantee freedom ain't one of them ;). Face it, the NRA USED TO be for the rights of the people, now it's just a business like any other business; out to make money for it's shareholders.

    April 8, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. T. D.

    How does any of this make anyone safer? Specifically the Connecticut bill signed by Gov. Malloy. I own a handgun, standard build, standard magazine, no modifications from the day I bought it. 15 round magazine. Now, not only do I have to register the magazine (ridiculous), I cannot purchase a replacement in the event of damage or failure, as it is banned. I can only load 10 rounds in at any time. That hasn't made anyone safer. In fact, you now make me LESS safe, as you have reduced the effectiveness of my self defense implement by a third. What sense does this make? And what criminal is going to abide by this? Those of us who play by the rules continue to do so. Those who don't, won't, haven't, and never will. I've got no problem with thoroughly screening to make sure we're not just letting ANYONE have access to firearms, but the root of the problem is better mental health screening and treatment. Not just throwing a bottle of pills at a person. You can ban every gun or sharp object under the sun, but you can't legislate bad intentions. If a kid builds a bomb in his basement, are we going to ban chemistry books next? Yes, something needed to be done. Some of the things in the new law will do some good. Unfortunately too much of it punishes those who play by the rules. I for one am tired of having to change the way I do things, because someone ELSE screwed up. That seems to be the way things run around here.

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

    If Chairman Obama had half the brains and half the balls Lady Thatcher had...well....ah forget it.
    If he's not getting our guns, he'll ruin our children and unborn grandchildren's futures with heavy debt, agreed upon by the RINOs.

    April 8, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  15. hawktyme

    Everyone is a responsible gun owner – until you take aim and pull the trigger at another person.
    The big fear is federal gun registration. Yet there's no fear of registering every detail in your life, including your checking account and credit card numbers, to the NRA. If the government was really interested in taking your guns, don't you think that would be the first place they'd go to collect information? You don't have to pass anything. Just have the guts to issue a public vote. Show America what you think is the best thing to do. If you're afraid to register, then it shows you have something to hide.

    April 8, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  16. Ll

    As a former Republican for over 30 years, I don't think I have ever seen the GOP so deadset against so many demographics of Americans in favor of the highest special interest bidder. It borders on, if not already crossed the line, of reason.

    April 8, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  17. James Foley

    @Greg... Really?! They did all that there.... in Canada... where YOU are? And how did that work out? So They've banned .22's in Canada? When did that happen?... Oh, wait, I get it... 1. You're not actually IN or from Canada, and 2. You're just using the Slippery Slope argument with a false inevitability.... how quaint. ;)

    April 8, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  18. VJN

    Praise the Lord! Praise Obama! It is not a perfect fix, but from a CT citizen, this is a step in the right direction.

    April 8, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  19. John

    Greg you're wrong. It was working and the law inforcement community was very much in favor of it. It made their jobs easier. The only reason why it's not here now is that we have conservatives in power currently and they killed the program because they thought they could get votes.

    April 8, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  20. James Foley

    @Greg... oh and the very same people huh? Ask nobody #1 and Nobody #2 and they'll give us the answer? :/ Riiiiiiiight ;)

    April 8, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  21. Daniel Maddigan

    The NRA has the same world view as old confederacy. They are traitors arming themselves to overthrow what they call a "tyrannical government". The same mentality that led Timothy McVeigh to murder 168 American citizens. McVeigh was executed' incinerated and flushed down the prison toilet. All those contemplating the same treasonous behavior deserves the same fate.

    April 8, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  22. michael gilbert

    will the new gun law stop a lady from buying a gun for a crazy son? I didn't think so.

    April 8, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  23. idoubt

    kids of wall street hedge funders are special and chosen. their death justifies the disarming of 99% by the top 1% parasites, just as 911 justifies zio nist wars on afghanistan, pakistan, iraq, yemen, palestine, libya, somalia, etc.

    April 8, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  24. Dan

    Sorry folks, but this guy is a moron. The priority seems to be guns and gay marriage. Why? The economy is still in shambles, the Middle East and not North Korea are red hot and we have a deficit that could undermine future prosperity of the nation. Although his supporters continue to blame the opposition for this man's failure to lead, history will view this man as an empty suit.

    April 8, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  25. Mike

    People are against background checks because we already do background checks. The problem arises when there is no enforcement of the existing laws. Thousands were turned away last year due to red flags, but there were only 44 prosecutions nationwide for illegal activity. Now you tell me how setting up even longer paper trails help deter criminals? Seems to me they criminalize good citizens and deter law enforcement from doing their job.

    April 8, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
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