April 8th, 2013
06:40 PM ET
7 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. nugun


    Wish the NRA paid us, but no...we do all this for freedom.


    April 8, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Greg

    we tried registration in Canada... billions of dollars later no lives saved and many many guns confiscated after the registry. They are never happy, it will lead to semi auto bans, then handguns, then bans of 'military' or 'high power' calibers, then to any mags that are removable, then everything but shotguns and .22's... then poof... nothing at all.... like the UK will be soon.

    The very same people are working on the US from outside and from within.... ask George Soros or Bloomberg..

    April 8, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. nadsgf

    The only part of the bill of rights that says "Shall not be infringed" and you think you should be able to vote to strip us of our rights?

    Is McCain severely dumb?
    I'm still wondering.

    April 8, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. Arlie

    Funny how they keep saying 90% of american back the background checks yet I have never been asked nor has anybody I know been asked, so who exactly are they talking to? Also nothing they have proposed would have stopped adam lanza!

    April 8, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  5. wes

    Disgusting. Does any body believe this? How are these people parading around with the president? This is blatant propaganda.
    He has one foot on the graves of those young children, and the other stomping on our bill of rights!

    April 8, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. Larry L

    Fewer than 1% of Americans are now able to call themselves veterans. Yet so many right-wingers boast they would use their guns to fight our government should they decide it has become "oppressive". So you weren't brave enough to fight our enemies but you think you'll be okay with killing our Soldiers? Don't put your hand over your heart when the flag goes by – you don't deserve that honor.

    April 8, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  7. canofpencils

    Are you my Dad? You " scold" well but lead poorly. This genie has been out of the box for 100 years and so says the Supreme Court in DC vs Miller

    April 8, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  8. Wes

    Why does the uhbama hate America so much?

    April 8, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  9. g

    a law bidding citizen in the morning a killer buy after noon-all you need is a gun

    April 8, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. kbv206

    Look, most gun owners are not at fault and Americans are generally very caring and respectful people. But for the few that are bent on carrying out these horrific acts, how can we best keep track of these types of people and get to them before they carry out a plan? I think it's sensible to start with background checks, without taking away guns. These tragedies were brought on by guns that were legally purchased but we need to identify people who are mentally ill or who has someone in their home who is mentally ill. Better yet, resort to technology to address the problem. For gun owners who own semiautomatics, invest in a safe that pings your phone if a gun is taken out of the case. Invent one at least. Our politicians and citizens just have to be more creative about the issue.

    April 8, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  11. Marty

    Australia has a very successful gun program, they made intelligent, courageous, common sense decisions. They have a proven record of accomplishment that the United States should emulate.

    The United States has the most cowardly group of men who are unfortunately called Congressmen, refusing a vote on gun control. Are these the same men who "courageously" dictate how women should conduct their most personal affairs in matters of equal rights, of contraceptives, of ultrasound rape, of abortion? Are these the courageous men who pontificate about life of the unborn child but completely dismiss the murders of the born with a NO VOTE on gun control? John McCain was correct when he questioned the no vote and said, "what are they afraid of"?

    April 8, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. SafeJourney

    The Supreme court has already ruled that the 2nd amendment is NOT unlimited.
    As long as you are a citizen of this country, the teat is in your mouth, whether you choose to ignore it or not. You're under a permanent umbrella of gun restrictions, taxes, laws, police, and all other kinds of protections. Stop crying about it online like a coward and deal with it, or do something to change it if you care this much. All you manage to accomplish is spouting pointless invective at strangers on the internet from the safety of your keyboard. You are so terrified by what the NRA is spewing and think you will lose your guns, you are wrong.

    April 8, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. Brad

    That's fine if they want to bring the families effected by the newtown tragedy, but if they do that then everyone who has had a gun save their lives should also be brought to these events.

    April 8, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. Ancient Texan

    Obama and the anti-gun crowd want to save childrens lives? Reverse Roe Vs. Wade after 50 million have been killed.

    April 8, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. california99

    Shame on Larry Pratt, the Director of Gun Owners of America! The NRA is paying him LOADS of cash to speak on their behave while innocent children are being killed now! He is unpatriotic and shame on him for electing the mighty dollar instead of children being killed now and in the future! We need gun control and background checks! Pratt is typical Republican 'NO' to everything this administration says! $$$$$$, the NRA, GOP matters before children! shame !

    April 8, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  16. Name

    So government can't balance a budget and they waste tax payers money for gun laws when there are bigger problems.

    April 8, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  17. scranton

    The brady law did absolutely nothing to prevent the Sandy Hook murders and neither will this new one. Wrap yourself in all the children you want Obama but it is not going to fix bad parenting.

    April 8, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  18. Nick

    Nothing in this gun control package would have had any effect on the Newtown shooting. Everyone is talking about "universal background checks" as if that would have made any difference. Ummm hello people, the mother passed submitted and passed a background check for every firearm she bought, and the shooter killed her and stole the guns he used in the shooting. Background checks don't check to see if you're going to be murdered and have your guns stolen, they just don't. All this discussion around background checks as if we owe it to the kids of Newtown is all lies. The bill should be rejected on that basis alone, because we shouldn't be bullied by lies and push through solutions that have zero to do with the actual problem.

    April 8, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  19. ghostriter

    Conservatives slay me...They argue that the proposed legislation won't be affective....then offer up ideas that are even less affective. If registration won't stop a nutcase from getting guns, what good will an armed guard do? And what happens if the shooter decides to catch them while he's on lunch?

    Hey, for good measure, let's throw in some slippery slope arguments. What's to stop the NRA from not only posting guards, but having them teach conservative propaganda in schools? It always starts with guards.

    But wait, what about movie theaters? Need guards there. Colleges have many buildings, dorms, etc. Probably need about 100 or so on Ohio State's campus alone. Grocery stores, malls, etc. What's to stop them from forming a totalitarian police state?

    Wow, this is fun. I can see why conservatives love to play this game. The possibilities are endless.

    April 8, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  20. Get it

    Obama answered his own question. Congress cares first and foremost about its standing with the gun lobby, and nothing else. Absolutely nothing else matters to them. This whole debate is the last straw in the great separation between Congress and the people that started in the wake of the JFK Assassination. After this no vote on gun control, the people and Congress will be forever separated. Our democracy is about to die, and there's nothing any of us can do about it.

    April 8, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  21. ben

    No gun control! Down with Obama! No Gun Control!

    April 8, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  22. Jason Smith

    I'm done with debate. I'm not going to give up my rights, not one inch. If you want to disarm me or restrict my rights inch by inch go ahead and try. I'm willing to die for my beliefs. Are you?

    April 8, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  23. ghostriter

    Well, we know the republicans are focusing on relevent issues.....like the travel habits of Jay-Z. He's got 100 problems now...

    April 8, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. Dave

    Here will be the actual vote:

    NRA: NO!
    People: Not counted.

    April 8, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  25. Tim

    With that logic why dont we skip a few steps, disband civilization, arm the crap out of everyone and relive the west where you get shot on the street as an act of daily life

    April 8, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
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