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. Stop and Think

    @blah blah:

    You can't legislate evil from doing evil. You can, however, meet that evil with force and end it abrubtly. Let me answer your question with a question: What if the current legislation being proposed stopped me from protecting my children adequately? What if it stopped me from protecting YOUR children adequately? You see, there are two sides to this, and we will likely never agree. But I choose the side that puts my well being in my hands alone. If you want to be a martyr, thats your right. ENJOY!!! But I would rather be explaining to the police why I shot that guy dead, instead of the police wondering why I am shot dead. My choice, my right....its that simple.

    April 8, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Notags

    According to FBI statistics, in 2011 there were 1,694 deaths attributed to knives or cutting instruments. There were 494 deaths attributed to blunt objects, i.e. clubs, hammers, etc. In that same time period there were 323 deaths attributed to rifles.

    If a person went to a hardware store and purchased a hammer, ax, etc. or to a home improvement store a purchased a set of kitchen knives, shouldn't they also have to undergo a background check since in 2011 they were responsible for deaths than rifles?

    res ipsa loquitur

    April 8, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  3. DueDiligence4

    None of President Obama's speeches change the fact that while horrific, the recent actions of violent and sick individuals (such as James Holmes in Aurora and Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook) are extremely rare. Despite the media and politically fueled fear, our children ARE extremely safe in our schools, in our movie theaters, and on our streets. As a society, we must not legislate based on sensationalized media coverage and fear mongering.

    April 8, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    Its interesting that the people who are screaming about the Second Amendment the loudest in here were most likely the ones who had not problems with the Patriot Act when it was passed, no problem with the lines at the airports because it was in the name of national security. Has it occurred to anyone here that when you think you hear glass breaking in the middle of the night and you open fire that it could be a family member ( which you are far more likely to shoot than an intruder)? Its amazing watching the compartmentalization of the Right when it comes to their approach to a problem. Everyone was told to shut their mouths when it came to 9/11, to back the president or face the consequences of a perceived betrayal: I think that the number of people who have died in gun-related crimes this year has already suprassed the death tolls in NY, DC and Shanksville: where is the sense of urgency in attacking that problem from the Right? Answer, they don't have one. If they did, the problem would have been solve with all the enthusiasum they had after 9/11. I guess the death toll in Newtown was not high enough to warrent their changing their views. Perhaps if the killer had been Muslim, that would have gotten their attention.

    April 8, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  5. Ken

    Just wait until the handheld energy weapon is commonplace. You aint seen nothing yet.

    April 8, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. digdug2k

    I was thinking this morning about how this is similar/different to the Patriot Act. I'm curious where support between the two overlaps. Patriot Act supporters (I assume) claim it makes us safer. Gun law supporters also feel like stricter gun laws will protect them. The difference seems to be that people fighting against gun laws are fighting against them because they believe that having background-checks is a slippery slope to banning guns all together. i.e. they think their civil rights MIGHT be infringed on some day. People fighting against the Patriot Act are fighting it because your rights ARE being infringed on right now. IMO say the later makes sense. The former is (AFAICT) just GOP rhetoric trying to stir up a base to hate a man for now good reason.

    April 8, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. rs

    Inconceivable
    ___________________
    Perhaps if the GOP would simply JUST do something. I don't know if you've noticed, but since Bush all they've done is pass voter restriction laws and anti-civil rights laws- not much on jobs or the economy. "Just sayin'..."

    April 8, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. spockmckoy

    "If you cops know what is good for you, you will stand behind the prez today for pics + remove your guns and empty out all the ammo, just in case any of you get any wrong ideas....."

    April 8, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. Gimmeabreak

    First off blah blah, those are the dumbest most simpleminded questions I have ever seen.
    "What if the current legislation CAUSED your love ones to be another statistic like it did to many others in Chicago and other cities with tough gun laws?"
    I won't waste time on your other juvenile questions, just do what I did and switch out a couple words in each and you can come up with your own answers.

    As far a background checks, I don't know where people are coming up with gun owners don't want them. They are fine but we don't want the government using them to create the national registry which is what the main plan is. That's 90% of the work towards confiscation. Whatever happens here is just a step in what they really want so they don't need everything just parts then they move on to the next phase.

    Bottom line is that there is ABSOLUTELY NO concrete evidence that any of these laws are going to have any positive affect on anything. Trying to solve any issue using trial and error and guessing is a stupid, stupid, stupid approach to any problem especially when it has the potential of doing more harm than good is there.

    April 8, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. DueDiligence4

    Our gun laws at work:

    Sam Grant nearly celebrated his eighth birthday party in jail. The North Carolina boy had been charged with two felony counts of discharging his BB gun. The parents of a then-seven-year-old North Carolina boy are beyond angry after their son was charged with two felony counts of possessing a BB gun. Just moments before the child was expected to answer to the allegations before a Catawba County judge — the charges were dropped.

    April 8, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. Guy Smiley

    McCain is finally showing he is really a liberal and getting soft in the mind.

    April 8, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Evervigilant

    The POtuS is desperate. The lies have become so apparent. Media continues to spread propaganda to try and help. The 90% figure is yet another misleading lie. Perhaps that many support background checks but not bans of any kind. Polls just last week by CNN and others showed support for gun control on the fall after the high it reached after Newtown. Our dear leader must have sent them a threatening email much like he has other reporters who did not please him and now they have fallen back in line spreading lies.

    April 8, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Bob

    Blame Sen Feinstein. Had they just focused on background checks instead of throwing in all of her loony gun bans it would have been passed by now. Gun bans always fail and Obama should have reigned in Sen Feinstein much earlier to focus on legislation that matters versus her insanity.

    April 8, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. billybill

    If legislators attempt to tack on any legislation beyond simple background checks to this bill, which they always try to tack on more legislation to every bill, they will doom it to utter failure. If you want it to pass write your representatives and tell them to leave the bills legislation dealing with strictly background checks and nothing else, anything more will see it crash and burn.

    April 8, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. John

    Its just astounding to me the way Obama thinks. He's got us on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea and his concern is with gun control for law-abiding citizens

    April 8, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. sambo

    is taxpayer picking up tab for these Sandyhook parents to fly to Wash.DC house and feed them and drive them around for political gain by our prez who should put in as much time on Benghazi

    April 8, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. Kulafarmer

    Hows about tigure out how to stop spending more than you bring in you donkey.
    Top messing with our basic rights and pay attention to what the REAL problems are, enough grandstanding.

    April 8, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. Ethan

    Group Thought at its finest. Keep choking down the misinformation and lies. Obama is VERY good at manipulating people, don't underestimate his power to make you believe the second amendment is safe, or not relevant anymore.Once they take away our rights to defend ourselves from them, what will they target next? How many of our rights can they convince the people to throw away?

    April 8, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. Juan Carlos de Burbon

    How about we start enforcing the current laws instead of trying to create new ones?

    April 8, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Doeschna

    What a joke. He only goes to the states that are already have passed gun control measures and campaigns to pass more. Does that not give you an idea of what he really wants? He truly wants to completely disarm every American.

    April 8, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. GatorDude

    "The ONLY way to enforce background checks on private sales is to have a national registry on ALL guns." - This is the sticking point. If background checks can't be used to build a registry or database of guns or gun owners, then it easy to support. It has to be built on the framework of the national instant background check. It can't be costly or onerous to gun owners. That is the compromise. Of course, it would be much easier to have "CROOK" or "NUT" tattooed on the foreheads of felons or mentally ill people.

    April 8, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. John

    Finally a proposal that will stop criminals from getting their guns. Oh, I forgot they don't buy them at gun shops. They steal them Sen. Chuck Schumer, they don't submit to background checks. With nearly 300 million firearms in this Country proposals that will only be followed by law abiding citizens will do nothing to stop these tragic multiple homicides or make our schools safer. By the way, what is the current body count in Chicago where there are strict regulations on firearms?

    April 8, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. Texas Crazyman

    Obama has no testicles to come to the Great State of Texas and talk smack about guns. Gov. Perry will throw him out of the state on his silly @ss. Hey Obama, why don't you go to your home state and to your hometown of Chicago and start there with gun legislation. Chicago has the worst gun deaths in the U.S. but you don't care about your Bros, eh Bro????
    Just keep spending our money and continue on your pathetic fundraisers for the DEMOCRAPS, LOSER!!!!!

    April 8, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. BigWaveAlex

    The proposed law would have done NOTHING to stop Mrs. Lanza from purchasing the weapons or to stop her from giving them to her son. It's all just smoke and mirrors to remove gun rights from law abiding citizens.

    April 8, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. lerianis

    Again, we don't need gun control, we need criminal and mentally ill control. A good dose of "Legalize the drug trade!" would help as well, since a good 90% of the gun violence in society today is directly or indirectly linked to having the drug trade illegal.

    April 8, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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