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. SaveOurKids

    There is no need at all for people to have assault weapons other than their own lack of mentality and morality.

    April 8, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  2. Ken

    I think the prez should just hang it up. He won't get anywhere with paranoid gun types. Forget it, go home, let the dead fall where they may. There is nothing that can be done...the laws you talk about enforcing are like Swiss cheese but you don't want to tighten them. So forget it. Forget you (or a family member) are more likely to die from your gun, forget that unless you have your gun in your hand a criminal will get you (they only protect you from the stupid criminals you see on youtube). so sleep well, don't worry, put some guns under your kids pillows. you're gonna be all right...but remember, no whining, no alligator tears for the cameras, no law suits no nothing, when it's one of yours. I have no compassion for you, and you don't either, you just give it lip service.

    April 8, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  3. DM

    This is CNN's top story on their site today.

    I count fully EIGHT quotes from Obama in this article and ONE from opposing views (Wayne LaPierre of the NRA)...and even then, he's quoted at the very tail-end of the article, with a link immediately following his quote to another article with the headline; "Malloy says NRA’s LaPierre acts like a circus clown".

    And this, after CNN's new President JUST SAID in an interview not 3-weeks ago;

    Q: "What’s the biggest misconception about CNN?"

    A: "That it’s a liberal news network. It drives me crazy. It’s not."

    Yah...right!!!

    April 8, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  4. Marina

    Please support gun control laws President Obama is supporting! These are just common sense laws. Imagine, if these laws were in place 10 years ago, it is very likely, that the 20 beautiful kids and 5 adults murdered in Sandy Hook would be alive today. The murderer's mother would not have been able to buy a weapon that could shoot hundreds of bullets in 5 minutes. Please take time today to reach out to your representatives, particurarly Republican representatives, and show support for gun control. You have the power to stop another tragedy in the future!

    April 8, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  5. squab

    Why arn't you people this passionate about stoping drinking and driving?

    April 8, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  6. SaveOurKids

    Anyone who believes the founding fathers would stand for this is in need of serious help. They would NEVER excuse these murders as part of our "freedoms." Give me a break. You are sick if you think that. Get help!

    April 8, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  7. Logic Rules

    Does the NRA realize that recent tragedies were done with guns bought legally, without background checks? The next tragedy could be the cowardice of Righty politicians...pathetic

    April 8, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  8. DENNA

    If 20 dead white children doesn't encourage us to try to fix the problem, then we are seriously lost.

    April 8, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  9. Sharon Mahart

    Except there isn't overwhelming support for tougher laws, and shame on the president for continuing to use the deaths of those innocent children to try to convince us there is. Goes to show that even the most carefully-orchestrated coup attempts will not be tolerated by real Americans. My only fear is for what the administration will do next in their quest to hijack this great nation.

    April 8, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  10. konica135

    You can see the frustration mounting. Odumbo is back in the campaign mode double time. He can't stay in DC, he can't keep from using a puppet audience for a backdrop, he chooses a liberal-minded audience with no worldly experience, and he has to revert to sending Mooselle to do his pleading in Chicago. Guess his weight and Rahm's isn't enough.
    Please Mr. President, you were elected to run the country, not champion your pet prohibition. Return to the Oval Office. Get the budget crisis settled, figure out ways to return people to the work force and STOP curtailing social security benefits for the elderly who have honestly contributed to a fund intended for aiding them in their retirement.

    April 8, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  11. SpenderH

    The United States Congress is purposely built to works slowly and methodically, not to respond quickly to a disaster.

    April 8, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  12. transmitterguy

    We have flight simulators to teach people to fly. Driving simulators to teach people to drive. There are operation simulators to teach surgeons to operate on people. Video games that teach people to kill using high powered guns, that combined with a mentally ill person, commits a horrendous crime of killing REAL people. Why do the video games get off scott free of contributing to the crime. These games a powerful and will brainwash anyone who plays them continuously. Then in combination of actually teaching these people to shoot real guns is in my opinion a recipe for disaster.

    April 8, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. Danny Hunt

    Stereotypes

    In Marc Lepine's case the media focused on an Arab father while the experts focused on homelessness. In Adam Lanza's case the media focused on mental illness, while the experts claim this was not the cause. Two stereotypes that hide the cause, and used to legislate gun control.

    April 8, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  14. Larry Karlberg

    Warning OUR Representatives? That were elected to represent WE THE PEOPLE. He behaves like he is the supreme ruler of the land (dictator). And to use AF1 as a private charter plane for his political props makes me vomit.

    April 8, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  15. Name

    And we expect more from him but, were not getting that are we!!!! Just more debt and hypocrisy! !!!

    He should foucus on the economic state of the USA...
    After all its been 5 years of BS!

    April 8, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  16. JustAnotherComment

    This White House could care less about universal background checks (gun control). They"re building their 2014 wedge issues list aling with immigration reform (amnesty) in an effort to have a majority in the House and the Senate. Same song and dance, new verse. Anyone happen to notice the number of police officers that weren't clapping for the President when he stepped onto the podium in Denver last week? Quite a few.

    April 8, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. Name

    This is what you do when you cant handle the job you have some how been elected to do... you direct the focus away from the job you should be doing and attack something else!!!

    Focus on you job Mr. President. .. herw is a novel idea... balance the budget! Work on the economy... as it gets better so will the crime rate!!!

    Leave the people who abide by the laws alone... !

    April 8, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  18. Brian

    The democrats should shut their mouths. They wouldn't be so quick to take away the rights they value. As usual the government, especially the President are pushing the agenda of adding laws that will make no difference. The answer is taking the rights of the law abiding......good call! Not!

    April 8, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  19. Pocono Shooting

    "Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
    -John Parker, Battle of Lexington, 1775

    Filibuster all the way... everyday... until gun control is dead in the Senate.

    April 8, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  20. Pocono Shooting

    I am sending more money to the NRA and GOA today. We need them now more then ever !

    April 8, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  21. Skarphace

    If it is truly our goal to make it more difficult for those with a violent history to purchase guns, then passing legislation to require background checks on all private sales is absolutely essential.

    Only those whose goal is to keep it easy for those with a violent history to purchase guns would be opposed to universal background checks.

    April 8, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  22. Mike M

    Getting scolded by Obama is like getting scolded by Rosie O'Donnell. Sure it's loud and it happens all the time but you just wish he'd shut up and go away.

    April 8, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  23. proskater

    guns don't kill people...derrrr, what?!
    gun laws like a national registry will track gun owners...yeah, that's point!!
    i regret that the internet and youtube have created a greater undereducated class of human beings. people who click about and fix their minds on paranoia, conspiracies, exaggerated details and overblown predictions. u all are just itchin for war. thats the part of reasonable dis course in a 21st century society u just dont get. keep ur guns then, all ur guns, but i better see ur name on that registry. c'mon....

    April 8, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  24. G. Flint

    John is correct. I would not want to see teachers armed. The stress of the job is difficult enough. I know that for a fact as I was in the classroom for 38 years and worked across 3 school districts. Teachers are mothers, fathers, educators, nutritionists, confessors, clergy and more. Adding a gun to the situation is like checking your gas tank with a match.

    April 8, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  25. Valwayne

    Obama and the democrats are shamelessly using the deaths of those children to stampede the American people into gutting the 2nd amendment and banning all gun ownership in our nation. Obama is destroying our economy, now he wants to disarm all Americans, except the criminals of course, like the democrats did in Chicago, which is now murder city where honest law abiding citizens are the only people without guns. It's time to stand for freedom and against Obamas attack on the bill of rights, and our freedom.

    April 8, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
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