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. hummmm

    Why isnt the media going after Obama for using AF-1, to transport the families to Washington to lobby for his agenda. Amazing he lets illegal's go to sequester and closes the white house to taxpaying americans but he will use taxpayers dollars to forward his agenda.

    April 8, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. wes

    Gun control is people control. Universal background checks are the path to full confiscation. Don't trust these wolf's in donkey clothing.

    April 8, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "I will never hand over my gun and I will never stop carrying. If you are scared then to bad."

    Sounds like you're the one with fear and paranoia issues.

    April 8, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. PaulG

    We do not need more legislation that would have done nothing to prevent these recent tragedies. America, don't let them off the hook, mental health care reform including proper funding, and dealing with other causes of violence must be addressed to make a meaningful impact.

    April 8, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Guest

    First and foremost, the gun legislation being proposed is not geared to take away anyon'e guns. Secondly, perhaps you're the one that's SCARED why you feel such an urge to carry a gun. And perhaps you should go live in the wilderness since you're afraid of Americans.

    April 8, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. Deceased Equestrian Pugilist

    Why is it that I can't read an article related to gun control without it saying "Sandy Hook" multiple times? Do we really need to rally for difficult to revrse changes in our laws because of a trending tragedy? Shouldn't our lawmaking decisions be disjoint from emotional events? I just feel as though people are riding the media wave to make these uncommon tragedies seem far more representative of our reality than they really are. Regulations that affect us all shouldn't be based primarily on freak occurances.

    April 8, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Drew

    "one man with a large banner advocating the president's gun control proposals told CNN he came all the way from Michigan to show his support. "
    I hardly consider Michael Moore Communism a man.

    April 8, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. Mik

    The NRA "favors improving the system to include more data on those with a history of mental health issues" but what is the point of improving that system if there is no required background check?

    April 8, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Mike

    Yes, Yes. Mr. President you keep on with your gun thing and you'll be losing the Senate also. Any political leader that votes against guns will be retired for good in the next election. You can huff and puff Daddy "O" but you wont blow the house down.

    April 8, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. tim duncan

    Obama admin. gun bans are a deep part of their overall plan. We all knew this years ago they just waited for the incident to capitalize on it and use the victims. It's obvious what they are doing and it's obvious whom CNN supports.

    April 8, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. commiecat

    This guy stays on the campaign trail 24/7, never minding what is going on with the rest of the country....what a job!!!

    April 8, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. jim

    Gun control = FAIL. It's over, freedom won.

    April 8, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. sailor

    Once again the people who know the least about the subject matter are the ones making the laws.

    April 8, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Rob

    Of course the criminals and drug dealers aren't going to follow these new laws or any other one for that matter. That is what makes them criminals. If we don't pass laws simply because the criminals aren't going to follow them then we wouldn't have any laws would we. Then there be anarchy created out of fear and mistrust. Oh wait, that is what the NRA wants anyway. Dangerous people....

    April 8, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Spgfld Tom

    Only President Obama would have the demented view point to stand in front of the parents of those poor dead Sandy Hook children and hype laws that would not have prevented the madman from doing that horrific act. Remember Lanza killed his mother to get the legally purchased guns that no doubt had a background check done before purchase. All his misty eyed Gun Control speeches are just a distraction to a nation drowning in debt and a flood of illegal immigrants – which at the moment is being bullied by a crazy North Korean leader.

    April 8, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. Zondar

    ghostriter, a "state of emergency" was declared in Louisiana. That was the only expanded powers that were called on. There was / is no such concept as Martial Law. And, the State of Emergency powers did not include the power to disarm people. The law was amended after the fact to make it very clear that these powers are not included, but it was nevertheless illegal at the time – yet they still did it. Yes – it was illegal. They were sued to make it stop. By the NRA.

    National Guard troops are shown there on the video assisting, BTW. It wasn't just NOPD.

    And in any case, none of that really matters, does it? All of that is just "should they have / shouldn't they have" – but you can't dispute that they DID. That's the point.

    They did. It happened. We can't say "we're different, it could never happen here" to brush aside the concerns of gun owners when it comes to a registry and confiscation. A complete registry, a list of all gun owners and the guns they own, is something that can never be given to a government that has shown they are willing to forcibly disarm the people.

    And it is obvious our government is willing.

    I'll leave it to others to speculate why the media didn't cover it more. But it did. People sitting in their houses, police enter without a warrant, "detain" them (in handcuffs), sit them on their front law, remove all their guns, then leave them to fend for themselves – now disarmed.

    Youtube search for Patty Konie if you want to see some of the worst of it. She had a fractured shoulder from being wrestled to her kitchen floor by police, so they could take an empty, open cylinder revolver from a grandmother in her own home.

    April 8, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Steve Prosky

    He can pitch all he wants. Aint getting them. Sorry.

    April 8, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. max3333444555

    its hard to imagine that americans actually support the concept of doctor patient confidentiality being violated to maintain a database of people with certain mental issues.

    so now our country has been so concerned with safety that we would not only violate the 2nd amendment but also the 4th and 5th as well.

    how about this instead – as long as we are violating peoples rights – if you commit a crime with a gun you don't get mirandized, have no right to a lawyer and the cops can beat a confession out of you. lets get rid of a trial by jury too, after all the bill of rights doesn't matter!

    April 8, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. allison

    Thank you, SpencerRifle. I'm in complete agreement with your statements. Also, note the picture of Obama...the policemen were required to attend, though many did NOT want to be there as "cop props".

    April 8, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. Scare The Pilgrims

    Wayne Lapierre ,, " Its not about getting the people on the hill in Washington to love you, what Washington understands is numbers. " Quote from the Guns&Ammo Magazine April 1992 Issue Page 20. Wayne had been Executive Vice President of the NRA for six months.
    President Obama " If You Started A Business , If You Hired Employees. If You Look At All The People That Helped You Make It Work Helping In Your Success, Then Thats Not Your Business, You Didn't Build That "
    Comment -> Wayne LaPierre ______________________________________________________________________
    Comment P.O.T.U.S. Obama _____________________________________________________________________

    April 8, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Xellious

    What a horrible person, using the tragedy to further political gains.

    April 8, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. nuclear mike

    Mr. President, your whining about not getting your way and the continued use of the murders of these innocents says it all...money is all you seek with making issues of what you cannot have!

    April 8, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Spock wrote:

    "Colorado has required background checks for many years and it didn't prevent the Aurora shooting. Where's the logic?"

    Spock, there are thousands of police officers nationwide, yet there is robbery, rape, burglary, assault, theft, arson, homicide and so on each and every day. Does that mean we do away with police officers in our nation?

    Let's face it Spock, the logic behind the current legislation is NOT that it will prevent every mass shooting in America but the HOPE that it would prevent SOME mass shooting and save lives. After all, it could have been your love ones in that Aurora theatre or your kid(s) in that Newtown school. Please be LOGICAL!

    April 8, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Scare The Pilgrims

    To Make It Clear ,,whats the point of quoting people from the 1st Gun Ban word for word from the Magazine articles from the early 1990's if all the Moderator is going to do is BLOCK IT ?

    April 8, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. Deceased Equestrian Pugilist

    @SpencerRifle

    The way I see it, the government can already issue search warrants for phone records and electronic transactions in the event that it becomes pertinent information relating to a crime, in fact there already are databases of many of these electronic transactions kept by banks and credit card companies, not to mention the personal records of many businesses. At least the government can put this info to good use.

    April 8, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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