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. libacrite

    Wag that finger Obama. It's worked with Northern Korea and Iran. You tell em'.

    April 9, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |

    30000 dead yearly. Ban all guns.take mines too.

    April 9, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  3. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    "I" am KING

    "I" can't have armed peeon's in "MY" kingdom..

    ONLY governments should be armed... Just ask the UN

    Governments would NEVER EVER attack their own people;
    just ask one of the 90,000 dead citizens in Syria

    Oh... That's right you can't

    April 9, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  4. Name lynn

    The people an these gun laws theres nothing, the people can do because the people is getting guns, an not getting back ground check, but the people are getting checks an guns, thats means people buying guns off the street an no back ground check.

    April 9, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  5. Chilly Willy

    Obama is just upset that he isn't getting his way. Nothing more than that.

    April 9, 2013 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  6. Brian in DC

    Same old Obama tricks, dance on the graves of kids and use their parents as props to push his agenda that the majority of Americans are against.

    April 9, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  7. James

    The right to bear arms shall NOT be infringed. Did anyone go to school and learn history? What this administration is considering is the same thing Hitler did in Nazi Germany. Don't believe it? Read up on some history I can prove myself right while we will still have some people who are unable to accept the truth.

    It's a sad state when we have so many citizens that truly are stupid. How about we enforce existing laws, I'm a law abiding citizen, and will not accept anymore infringements.

    April 9, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  8. idb

    When will that man finally be impeached?

    April 9, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  9. canofpencils

    I agree- no one has ever called me or stopped me on the street for a survey? From whence does he pull his numbers? I belong to the NRA- what the public needs to do is read DC vs Miller and other supreme court 2nd amendmt decisions. You will never get HIPPA to agree with a mental illness registry for this application. I have a CCW in Fla are you gonna " png" me every time I leave the house?

    April 9, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  10. king

    are these right wingers on this post really civilized. how can they muster up the guts to give criminals minded folks weapons, the first thing they will do is blame the president when things go array, we have seen this over and over again. why would they want guns to kill our soldiers if they start believing one of their conspiracy theories they throw around like fertilizer. come folks when will these folks start thinking rational for one second.

    April 9, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  11. Sue

    Why are you calling on us to contact our congressmen/women? We did when you wanted to pass obamacare. We told all, loud and clear that America didn't want it... and yet you, Pelosi and Reid did what you wanted to anyway. so in my estimation... what goes around comes around. You can't keep bullying people into what YOU and a handful of people think is best for America.

    April 9, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  12. chet

    What a piece of work this President is – this is clearly using grieving parents for politics! He has no shame only his agenda and his way or the highway! Sad we've come to using dead children and remorseful parents!

    April 9, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  13. Tiz

    Obama should recall how he handled Obamacare before he judges anybody on procedure..... what a weak pathetic hypocrite.... who does he think he's fooling?

    April 9, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  14. v_mag

    Democrats need to take the gloves off and start calling these semiautomatic guns what they are: murder weapons. They are designed to kill people. That's all they're good for. Get rid of them.

    April 9, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. Mike

    The devil is in the details. Last time we rushed thru a law it was written by Insurance companies and designed to increase their profits at tax payer expense. Let's actually do something that will make a difference instead of some "feel good", knee jerk reaction that will have no effect on the problem.

    April 9, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  16. seanster5977

    So which criminals that are currently not following the laws on the books now, are going to suddenly care about a new law? I think background checking is important, but you can't cherry pick. If it doesn't account for mental health then it isn't going to matter. Most states have background checks now, but if they are the slightest bit invasive then the ACLU is suing. Look at mental health and the influences that affect different people. Banning a magazine capacity is not going to have any lasting affect. There are many large capacity magazines around available to someone wanting to find one.

    April 9, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  17. Eff

    I'm appalled how Obama can fly around with his entourage, planes and vehicles, spending how many thousands of dollars to soapbox. The roads and highways were shut down during rush hour. With talk of spending cuts and this crappy economy, this couldn't have been done remotely or in the oval office? And not once was there any idea about school safety proposed. He's protected by guns, the banks are protected by guns. Is paper and metal more precious than our children? If I were a criminal, I'd be doing a jig.

    April 9, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  18. localyokel

    The hypocrite Obama only cares about what the majority thinks when they agree with him.

    April 9, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  19. Peach

    WHEN will people (OBAMA) start to talk about the REAL issue-mental health.

    April 9, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. 165 gr Speer Gold Dot

    How can you expand a system that doesn't work that is not enforced?? 82,000 people failed a background check last year and 66 were only prosecuted. It's not the background checks that Gun Owners are worried about, its the lingo attached to it. If they would take the registry out of the question I think 100,000,000 gun owners would be ok with it. The government has no business in knowing how many firearms I have, what calibers, what types as long as they were purchased legally. The government shouldn't tell me what gun I need and what gun I don't need to defend myself from criminals or oprressive government should that ever occur. We have a bill of rights, not a bill of needs.

    April 9, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  21. James

    Why is it that your prez says, "The majority have spoken and want this gun legislation" and he expects that to work with the majority have actually VOTED against gay marriage but that's not good enough.

    April 9, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. Nodak

    Obama is just throwing a temper tantrum because he can't get his own way. What a bozo!

    April 9, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  23. Name

    Good thing we live in a republic and have a bill of rights that protect the minority from mob rule. I don't understand why he is talking about a democracy.

    April 9, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota


    When will that man finally be impeached?

    When hell freezes over. What I don't get is why, when your party understands full well that Obama is here to stay for a second term, you folks want to spend the next 4 years offering up nothing but dribble as talking points. Eight years of Bush was bad enough on the country. Wasting the next four years on the same anti-Obama blah, blah, blah you all spent the past 4 years whining over while not addressing the issues which face this country daily (regardless of which aisle a president hails from) is anti-American, anti-patriot, anti-productive; giving us a grand total loss of 16 years of American innovation and progress ... which no doubt China is taking full advantage of.

    Please proceed, GOPers ...

    April 9, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  25. Anthony

    Seanster5977, so which criminals that are currently not following the law now, are going to suddenly care about laws that are on the books? Do you think we should forget about laws because criminals don't obey them?

    April 9, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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