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. DARNELL

    Obama should pass a law that requires criminals to follow laws... because until then, none of this means anything lol.

    April 8, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. Joe Normal

    I think we already have laws on the books that makes killing someone illegal... how dare criminals disrespect those laws!

    April 8, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. ghostriter

    Sanity......the slippery slope argument is a conspiracy theory waiting to happen. It's hardly usable. Especially here. It requires a lot of things to happen. None of which have been shown as even feasible.

    Making the current system work requires background checks and probably an updated NCIS system and some sort of registry. How else do we stop straw buyers? Guns need to be traceable. In the event of lost or stolen guns especially.

    April 8, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. removeobamafromofficenow!

    This is nothing but a plot to take away our god given rights I am proud to see fellow true americans laying it out as it is especially sanity and reason I tip my hat to you. Remember our constitution is our law

    April 8, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. Justin Taylor

    Mr. President move on to something else...something more relevant...like I don't know...the cuts, the debt, the jobs...you know that stuff. Quit trying to take my guns and instead try and give me a job...

    April 8, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. Don

    Obama's suitors must be really standing on him to grab guns while he uses the Newtown incident (whether its real of staged) and what really isn't sinking in to his concrete skull is that Americans are not going to give up their guns to an Unconstitutional whim. Won't happen, end of story.

    April 8, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. OldSchool

    Don't let up Mr. President, you have a majority of support for a lot of these points.Your archaic opposition is just a loud minority...

    April 8, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. Nonsense

    @ghostriter you state "...we aren't Canadians. Americans wouldn't vote for confiscation, Americans wouldn't support it and I'd go a step further and say that Americans wouldn't participate in unarming otherwise legal citizens."
    =================================================================================================
    Interesting thing about confiscation: that is something the American public would not get a vote on. That is an action that would be determined by elected officials, and carried out by those with authority to do so.

    I have read articles, and heard talk radio segements, where some local law enforcement leaders have stated they would not enforce any new federal gun control laws, but that may not be the majority. I prefer to not even give them that option. Background checks? maybe. National gun registration? no way.

    April 8, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. ???

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

    I wonder how may of them are secretly hoping for another mass shooting so as to renew the fading momentum of their gun control agenda?

    April 8, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. LEFTISRIGHT

    Flying the family members back to Washington is a nice gesture. However, I wish the president would make the same offer to the families of the 70 homicide victims in Chicago.

    April 8, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Texas Crazyman

    Hey Obama, what part of guns don't kill people you do not understand??? How about the mentals that pull the trigger Fool. How about you fixing your own State and Home town Chicago where gun violence is the worst in the United States Bro??? Yea, thats right fix Chicago and save all your Bros from death.

    April 8, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Common Sense wrote:

    "Who doesn't love a party whose entire agenda is to make illegal immigrants legal and legal firearms illegal."

    First and foremost Sir, apart from requiring background checks, the current legislation being proposed is to make the sale of illegal firearms illegal. Secondly, while you took pleasure in taking a swing at illegal aliens in this country, I doubt Timothy McVeigh, James Holmes, Jerrad Loughner and Adam Lanza crossed the border into the U.S.

    April 8, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. palin twit

    Obama using the tragic deaths of children to force his political agenda. Sickening.

    April 8, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  14. a slozomby

    private transactions are unenforceable without an owner database. a database wont pass either house.

    April 8, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. Kyle

    Gun-grabbing government-worshipers- remember that if the 2nd Amendment goes, the 1st is not far behind.

    April 8, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. palin twit

    @Jack Everything you said is BS. Nowhere in the second amendment does it say guns should be regulated or guns are "only" for a militia. It states in order to maintain a well regulated militia, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. But you go ahead and make it up as you go.

    April 8, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. grace

    Please trust in our politicians, they only want what's best for us. Obama 2016.

    April 8, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    Someone said that he was in favor of background checks, but not for private sales: than what is the point of any background check? Don't say you are in favor of background checks, then qualify your answer. Our credit card information, all of our spending habits have been tracked for years EXCEPT for things like this: why is a gun exempt from being tracked? If you are the law-abiding citizen you claim you are, then there should be no problem. The bank runs a credit check on you whenever you make a major purchase, so why is that acceptable and not a government and mental health check. The paranoid fantasies from the tinfoil hat brigade are just that, fantasies.

    April 8, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. Stephen in VA

    So, because criminals don't respect the law, the argument goes, we shouldn't bother with a law, right? How come that doesn't apply to speed limits? Laws against theft? Against murder? "Why bother making robbery illegal; only criminals will rob people." Well, duh. Laws are there to provide an incentive to not do something, not to prevent it.

    April 8, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I have three daunting questions I would like to pose to the millions of gun toting "good guy with a gun" advocates across America....

    Here are the questions: Question 1...Would the current legislation being proposed result in the confication of your guns?

    Question 2... Would the current legislation being proposed prevent you from purchasing assault weapons and firearms in the future?

    Question 3...Is it possible that we can meet in the middle and find some kind of common ground solution to gun violence in America besides putting armed guards in schools and public facilities?

    April 8, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Obama Dept. of Redundancy Dept.

    Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer
    Common Sense wrote:
    "Who doesn't love a party whose entire agenda is to make illegal immigrants legal and legal firearms illegal."
    First and foremost Sir, apart from requiring background checks, the current legislation being proposed is to make the sale of illegal firearms illegal.
    ----

    In other late breaking news, the Obama administration has proposed tens of thousands of NEW laws, that are identical to already existing laws which the Obama adminstration refuses to enforce, in order to give the appearance of action and accomplishment.

    When asked why this was being done, President Obama responded, "Hey, it beats actually doing real work and thinking up real solutions. It also gives me a lot of opportunity to jet around the country and give speeches attacking my opponents. What's not to like?"

    April 8, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. Thomas

    State Governors , Law enforsment and 70% of the public want firearm legislation regarding tougher gun control .

    Yet , the powerful NRA lobby keeps the fear mongers believing in false thuths .

    If Jesus returns , he will need more then a 9mm !

    April 8, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. Greg in Arkansas

    To the people that don't want background checks....Background checks are somewhat an invasion of privacy just like a DWI check-point......however....if I get stuck in a DWI check-point, I don't mind because I am not drinking and driving....AND, it might just keep a drunk driver from sending me to the hospital or the morgue......anyone get the connection...???..

    April 8, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Al

    The need of the government that is ruling today needs to take away the right of the citizen to protect themselves, the citizen who would go out purchase a gun and would pass a background check with flying colors is the one that will suffer, and that is what the ruler wants to do. You don't see the Chicago type thugs or the rats and drug dealers turning in their applications for a background check to have that AK47 or other fully automatic weapons. No the ruler is coming after the good people that do obey the law. I say that if he wants to take away from the good people that he should clean house and disarm the men and women behind him and in front of him. Until then he should SHUT UP and leave us good people alone.

    April 8, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "@Jack Everything you said is BS. Nowhere in the second amendment does it say guns should be regulated or guns are "only" for a militia. It states in order to maintain a well regulated militia, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. But you go ahead and make it up as you go."

    The 2nd Amendment is subject to reasonable regulation. This is not debatable. It does not confer an absolute right. SCOTUS has been consistently very clear on that and background checks, a national database and bans on certain weaponry are all constitutional regulation of firearm ownership. It's pretty darn clear from the precedent. The only thing stopping any of it is congressional cowardice.

    April 8, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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