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. ???

    @Marcus Takatoa
    A speech about gun violence would be more meaningful in Chicago.

    It is probably too dangerous even for Obama to go to Chicago.

    April 8, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "the liberal agenda is to chip-away at individual freedoms and responsibilities."

    The single biggest infringement upon and attenuation of American's rights of our generation and, most likely, of our lives occurred when Dubya signed the Patriot Act and all of you whiny coward gun fetishists CHEERED him for it.

    April 8, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. alan

    NRA is the only means to defeat the fascist obama

    April 8, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. billybill

    So the people show they do not want strong gun control, and Obama now begs for it. Didnt he just make a plea a few weeks ago that fell on deaf ears, and now he will do it again. How about let the democratic process work like it is supposed to instead of trying to guilt everyone into all believing the same way.

    April 8, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Drew

    Well, I'm please you are in favor of universal background checks. That's a start! But as far as your argument that this legislation would infringe on your purchase of choice, I'm afraid that you're overlooking the reality that as long as "certain guns of choice" are made easily accessible to the public, the chances of people escaping a shooting rampage would be slim. Third, your scenario of being able to defend yourself against someone breaking into your home is pointless simply because the legislation being proposed is not designed to take your guns away.

    April 8, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. scarecrow

    Blah Blah, the flipside to your argument's coin is what if a gun prevents your loved ones from becoming a statistic? I oppose this legislation and kindly await your response.

    April 8, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. gentwelve

    If they refuse to vote and/pr debate the issue the the OP Senators should be removed..by any means necessary...

    April 8, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. NavalAviator

    It is actually inspiring to read, even on left leaning CNN, that people are generally against this outright anti-gun line of thinking. Obama really, really needs to stop campaigning on this because he is not getting any traction. Meanwhile, we had a dismal jobs report, serious problems all over the globe, etc. If you ask me, the President needs to suspend his social crusades and shore up the foundation of our economy – but that is not his strong suit. He's a social activist – it's his resume – it shouldn't surprise us.

    April 8, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Get lunatics off the street and none of this would have happened.

    April 8, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. ja

    most legislators are full of whale manure, last week they rose from the dead to support gay marriage, most are mute on gun control or take the low road, due to the nra

    April 8, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Why do Obama want to Band Guns so people like me and you can NOT defend yourself? you say you don't need ASSAULT WEAPONS? some people will call this DUMB, some will call it SMART! well actually its both, it depends on what eyes you are looking threw GOOD or EVIL? If they take them away you become vulnerable to CRIME, and FEAR, threw fear you can CONTROL. Can't bring a boy to a mans fight, cant bring a HAND GUN, to a AK47 fight, you are out match. MONEY, POWER, RESPECT, the Money Buys, Power which is Weapons, and the Man with the more and BIGGER Weapons get all the Respect, so its simple, they don't care who dies, there GOAL is to CONTROL, THE NEW WORLD ORDER threw fear you will LISTEN, it is Smart if you want CONTROL, but DUMB if you want to protect you and your FAMILY!

    April 8, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. rs

    ""Universal background checks" are universal registration. How will a law enforcement agency ever know if a background check was done if they don't keep a record of the checks? (which is already in violation of federal law) That is a registry. A registry is the next step toward confiscation."
    ______________________
    Two things:
    First, it isn't like the data (the fact you bought a gun) doesn't exist. It does. The store records the transaction, you are on their customer list, the bank has the transaction (check or debit/credit card transaction), the warranty card is on file with the manufacturer, the fact you bought a gun safe (with recepts, warranty cards, etc.) is out there, along with all of the accessories you've purchased for you firearms. You should have your guns on your homeowners insurance- more records. Pretty much that ship has sailed- people know now, or can easily discover who owns guns.
    Second, it does not follow logically that "registration" leads to confiscation. There is no historical precidence for that in the US, and as stated above if anyone cared they could find out you own firearms. Also- the "registration=conficsation" simply sounds paranoid.

    April 8, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. DN

    Calling a ban on high capacity magazines and automatic weapons, and background checks an attack on the 2nd Amendment is akin to calling a ban of absinthe paint thinner level alcohol an attack on the 21st Amendment.

    The level of paranoia among gun lovers is hilarious and pathetic. Guns are needed to fight a tyrannical government? Just who would be attacking you? The military? You think our armed forces are going to choose a political leader over friends and family? Besides the majority of our military are Republican, so why would they support a tyranny that they are against?

    April 8, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. SMRTGUY

    i found this in the government's archives.

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    focus on this spot> the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    the PEOPLE to keep and bear Arms

    April 8, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  15. Matthew

    Why do Obama want to Band Guns so people like me and you can NOT defend yourself? you say you don't need ASSAULT WEAPONS? some people will call this DUMB, some will call it SMART! well actually its both, it depends on what eyes you are looking threw GOOD or EVIL? If they take them away you become vulnerable to CRIME, and FEAR, threw fear you can CONTROL. Can't bring a boy to a mans fight, cant bring a HAND GUN, to a AK47 fight, you are out match. MONEY, POWER, RESPECT, the Money Buys, Power which is Weapons, and the Man with the more and BIGGER Weapons get all the Respect, so its simple, they don't care who dies, there GOAL is to CONTROL, THE NEW WORLD ORDER threw fear you will LISTEN, it is Smart if you want CONTROL, but DUMB if you want to protect you and your FAMILY!

    April 8, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. gijames1225

    @Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Sorry, even if a loved one would be killed by it, I in no way think I have the right to demand Americans surrender their right to own property and live their own lives without first getting my approval. I'm not sure what sort of person you are to think that you have the right to force 350 million Americans to do what you want or you'll have the police imprison them, but you are exactly what is wrong with America. This is a generation obsessed with using democracy to enslave and command their neighbors to abide how the majority wants. It's interesting that after 300 years of Enlightenment philosophy stressing the freedom and dignity of the individual, our era is busy regressing to a medieval understanding of human rights (i.e. there aren't any, only those dispensed by the sovereign state).

    April 8, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Just Me

    When you put a copy in my pocket 24 7 then I'll think about giving up my guns. Are you can take it from my dead warm hands. :-)

    April 8, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. acepylut

    It (background checks) doesn't interfere with the legitimate gun owner's right to bear arms. But at the same time makes sure, that felons, mentally ill people and spousal abusers can't get guns. Every American's for that, whether you're a gun owner or not."

    Bullcrap. Time to put a stop to this lie perpetrated by the looney left that "background checks" is not an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.

    Ask yourself – do you get a background check before opening your mouth? Would you agree to a background check to determine if you're metally fit to speak freely?

    No, and no. so stop with the bs lie that background checks aren't infringing on your rights. It's just another sad category error driven by those who hate our rights, that think that "if only" we had background checks, all violence would go away.

    April 8, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. pro2nd

    The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is 180 grains of chest pain.

    April 8, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  20. BanGuns2013

    Let's ban them all. Get it done.

    April 8, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  21. The Jackdaw

    Every time we are afraid and insecure we sacrifice our liberties. Once they are gone, we will not get them back. Gun control laws will only affect those who follow laws. We are making laws because of those who DO NOT follow laws. It is only logical that these laws will not work. They are only affecting those that have done nothing wrong.

    April 8, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Greg

    The article claims a 91% consensus on "universal background checks", but the wording in the survey is... "24. Do you support or oppose – requiring background checks for all gun buyers?"....which can easily be interpreted to agree with current laws involving firearm purchases from a FFL/dealer. It always helps to understand the if the survey question is clear in intent...this one isn't.

    April 8, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  23. ghostriter

    Tea bag gun nuts.......The NRA proposals would not have stopped Lanza either. Nor the shooting in Colorado. Matter of fact, they had guards in Columbine. Didn't stop that either.

    Sorry guys, just as with gay marriage, your arguments are shallow, hollow and meaningless. And that is on a good day.

    April 8, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Here's another questions for the gun advocates of America...

    Shouldn't we return the guns we conficated from the GITMO detainees? Shouldn't we return the guns we conficated from the Taliban? Shouldn't we return the guns we conficated from the Iraqis? Shouldn't we allow NK and Iran to develop nuclear weapons for deterrent and self defense? If the answer is no, then why should we?

    April 8, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  25. Inconceivable

    I find it hard to believe that our government have such a one-track-mind, inconceivable... I guess the National Debt of over 16+ Trillion, the joblessness issue, the chasm in the budget causing more joblessness, Osamacare breaking the backs of businesses /the middle class, NK threats, the weakening US dollar globally, and all the other inconsequential issues just didn't make the King and his Court Jesters agenda? It would be great for him to stop campaigning, and just get busy fixing something. Just saying...

    April 8, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27