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. Anonymous

    Over-all he has not been such a terrible president....now he is just trying to kiss "bottoms"....and now all of a "sudden" forgets about AMERICAN values......values which he did NOT dare to "touch" in his first term.....HA...

    April 8, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  2. Johny

    Ah... the metal worshippers are out in full force

    April 8, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  3. craig

    Obama wants to pass federal law based on emotion.
    Let no crisis go to waste.
    The fact that he is exploiting these family is disgusting

    April 8, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  4. Volcano0201

    The Best way to see the death crime scene dissapear in United States Of America because of the use of a firearm is not to allow nobody to have 1 no matter what they have as a background on their resume for them to be allow with 1 because if you do allow them to have 1 in their possession a killer eventually will have a chance of getting to a gun now

    April 8, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. Matt H.

    ANGRY OBAMA Proudly demands he be treated like a King! The Gun Grab continues. 1.5 Billions rounds of ammo purchased by the government. 8/2012

    April 8, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  6. abbydelabbey

    We owe our nation sane, sensible gun and ammo legislation and readily available mental health treatment. But that seems too much to ask from our politicians.

    April 8, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  7. John

    We do all this for freedom. YEA, RIGHT!!! You do this because like little children you don't want your toys taken away. So be a man/women and just say it!!!

    April 8, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  8. corpsman

    We DO owe them a vote. Losing a child is bad beyond describing.

    April 8, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  9. Zon

    Go ahead and kill it, boys. I dare you. Because in a year it will be hanging around your neck like a rotten albatross carcass. Honestly, you would think by now the wing-nuts would see these traps coming. But no, they just keep walking into them.

    April 8, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  10. Shane

    Just another bold and unleashed uncalled for act. From the worst President the United States has ever had. He makes quick and outlandish atacks on the wrong things and try's to use a tragedy like Sandy Hook as his footing. He needs to just quit everyday he steps further into an Abiss of no return. He already is making it were we are going to have to pay for him spending more money then any other President in history. That's what the people get for Electing someone that really had no track record on anything except spending money.. NOW WE REEP!!!

    April 8, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  11. Sciguy73

    No Mr. President, what the Govt OWES the people is a reasonable budget. Quit distracting everyone and get back to work on fixing our finances.

    April 8, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  12. John

    Like Barry McGuire sang so many years ago we are on the Eve of Destruction - hate your next door neighbor but don't forget to say grace.

    April 8, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  13. Obama the Murderer

    Obama has murdered over 150 children with his drone hit-men. What hypocrisy on his part. He is a monster and mass murderer.

    April 8, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  14. Brian from DC

    The idea that a country addicted to gun ownership can dare be outraged by this horrific scourge of violence is the very height of hypocrisy.

    April 8, 2013 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  15. DocB

    We definitely owe Newtown a vote but that vote must be for battling crime and building a robust mental health system that can effectively prevent the next Newtown. Banning licensed owners of legal guns does not help in this. Lanza murdered his own mother in order to get her guns, so he would have murdered anyone to get guns.

    April 8, 2013 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  16. josh p.

    The NRA better not give an inch to these people,what they really want is complete Ban,as Greg stated,sooner or later they will want more,just like with that Crook Bloomberg,he started with no smoking in restaurants,then bars,now even in the streets of NY people can,t smoke.

    April 8, 2013 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  17. John Wayne

    Gasp! The President kept his word! For the first time in his Presidental career. He kept true to his words. You are correct sir let's put it to a vote and if the vote goes down in flames speak no more of it and get to work getting us out of this depression.
    I wish no ill will toward these parents, no parent should have to bury children so young and such a trajic event shuch as this. There is evil in this world. It lies in wait and there is nothing to protect yourselves from it.

    April 8, 2013 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  18. James Causey Jr

    It's like they never heard the David Bowie song about the danger of 'putting out fire with gasoline'. But then these folks have probably never heard of David Bowie.

    Anyone who thinks they 'need' a gun are no better than the criminals themselves.

    April 8, 2013 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  19. John

    I have an idea. Don't play with your guns. I have 2 fine bulls that are lonely and need someone to play with. Any takers??

    April 8, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  20. john

    Nothing wrong with background checks, sheesh they do that just to get a job now, I guess my job is more dangerous then going to buy a gun? Take your head out your backside and see that if we can limit the amount of guns that any criminal like minded person has access to that that can't help but make it even a little safer. but you all seem to want open season for everyone to get and have guns. Then you can expect someone you care about to be killed or hurt by guns. It's your call. I support our rights, but also support common sense which this country seems to be out of. And Yes i have guns, knives, bows, and swords. But I seem to care more then most here.

    April 8, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  21. Bob

    So Obama is trying to..... shame us now?

    Still waiting for that "national conversation" Mr. Obama. He's shown zero respect for gun owners.

    April 8, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  22. Dr Tom

    Brian, it's not the NRA members in general that are stopping this and screaming on this site. It is a small sub group of them. Most NRA members support universal background checks.

    April 8, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  23. James Causey Jr

    "christian

    so this is the logic of the NRA- "we shouldn't have gun laws since the criminals arent going to follow them". Well in that case, lets get rid of every single law that ever existed!"

    Re-iterating THIS.

    April 8, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Sym

    The sheeple never learn from history. Go ahead and give them your guns, along with the rest of your rights.

    April 8, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  25. WildOmar

    President Obama is selling apples. Seriously. His people poll across the nation and get responses that indicate 90% of Americans think apples are a good idea. So, mandate firmly established, our elected leader begins to try and browbeat us into accepting his premise that since apple pies are good, only apple pie should be allowed, while other types of pies constrained by law. If you disagree with his apple pie premise, he will roll out stories of horribly afflicted children or other victims of pies in the face that NEVER would have happened if only other pies were regulated more closely. Note that there will be no national polls on the actual banning of other pies. Just general polls that support the President's "apples are a good thing" philosophy. And while our leaders try and guilt us into allowing our pecan, cherry and yes... even peach pies to be regulated, or even banned... American fritters (sorry) away the hours basking in the warm glow of self assurance that, yes... apples are truly good thing. Hey? What happened to my pumpkin pie?

    April 8, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
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