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. YoYo

    I thing we should start with the first amendment. Ban the press, free speech and then religion.
    These are all things which lead to war and war is bigger than guns.
    Start with licensing of religion. Some religions should pay more than others.
    Once those are out of the way, then guns should be an easy thing to take care of.

    April 9, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  2. dorsh44

    Try being honest and ask "Who is for a national gun registry" Only the leftest of the left. Wouldn't expect anything like that from this administration though.

    April 9, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  3. al

    I agree with the president that it at least deserves a vote.

    April 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. The REAL Truth...

    @James – The right to bear arms shall NOT be infringed.
    How about the first part... "well regulated militia' ?? Ignoring an inconvenient truth/fact again?

    April 9, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. It's Me

    The king is not happy. Hey, what about the economy? Ever think of focusing on that for a change?

    April 9, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. Conrad Shull

    The President scolds on everything.

    April 9, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. The REAL Truth...

    @seanster5977 – 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.
    Many, many folks believe that WLP and the rest of the industry-funded NRA leadership are totally crazy, and definitely certifiable after their proposal to arm teachers in schools to "protect our children"!! Does than mean that they can be denied their 2AM "right" if we prevent crazies from getting guns?

    April 9, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Darkseider

    This person we call a president is the biggest threat to this nations safety and security. Through deliberate and calculated actions he has divided this country and destroying its' economy. He and his minions are further trying to remove our freedoms and liberties every day. Not only the second amendment but also the 5th, 4th and 10th. Anyone that cannot see this at this point in time is either blind, in denial or just plain stupid.

    April 9, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. Mike

    The REAL Truth...
    @James – The right to bear arms shall NOT be infringed.
    How about the first part... "well regulated militia' ?? Ignoring an inconvenient truth/fact again?
    "Well-regulated" in this context means trained, not restricted.

    April 9, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. Peach

    Notice he always parades the Newtown parents or CT children as "props"...He could care less about those people, he just wants to use them for his own liberal agenda, in this case GUNS ARE BAD--give me all your guns. In the meantime, any NEW legislation will do NOTHING to prevent another Newtown. This guy just doesn't get it, he just wants to disarm America.

    April 9, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  11. StreetSmarts

    I wish the president paid as much attention to the budget and economy as he has with Gun control.

    April 9, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  12. iron bear

    This president is pouting like a child, because he is not getting his way. He needs to quit shoving these Newtown parents into everybodys face every time he makes a speech. Conn has their new Laws now, they are safe, secure, and vulnerable. Watch the crime rate in Conn go up. At least Congress is starting to think a little more rational,and not emotional, Fienstien. BAD GUN BAD GUN you shouldn't harm people. How about BAD person shouldn't harm people. The thought process is the idea to harm or not harm an

    April 9, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. ghostriter

    Registration is not a bad thing. You have to register to vote. I don't see republicans being worried about that.

    Another issue: Registration leading to confiscation? Really? You are really concerned that a list is all that is saving you from that? Guess what? Maybe you nutcases should think about that the next time a conservative wants to increase the military budget. Because at this point, should the government actually implement something crazy like that, you would not be safe. We have the best military in the world be far. You and your little militia can be taken out by an operator in his pajamas having coffee and a bagel. They could take over in a month's time and your little stand would not even make the history books.

    Not that I think any of this would pass. But if you are gonna be paranoid, go all the way. Go hard in the paint. It doesn't make sense to claim you need guns to protect yourselves from a government with a military so strong and advanced. Nor does it make sense that the existence of a list is the only thing keeping said government from taking your guns.

    April 9, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. Derek

    In DC v. Heller the Supreme Court held the 2d Amend. protects an individual right to keep & bear arms of the type in common use of the day. AR-15s & similar semiauto rifles (which are not assault rifles) are commonly used today by millions of Americans for sport, recreational shooting, competitions & defense. Therefore banning semiauto rifles like the AR-15 would be unconstitutional. There is no evidence that any of the proposed measures would reduce gun violence but would infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. Contact your Senators today & tell them you oppose any new Federal gun control laws.

    April 9, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. Bob

    The NRA loves blood. The NRA won't be happy until blood is running down the gutters of every American city. The NRA supports arming terrorists.

    April 9, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Bob

    Which part of "Well regulated" don't you gun nut terrorist supporters grasp?

    April 9, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. Dallas

    President Obama is absolutely right – these families from Newtown and all across the country deserve at the very least a vote! For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would object to universal background checks. It's common sense and 90% of America agrees. How dare the senate republicans try to filibuster this common sense proposal. If this goes down in defeat, we truly will be the laughing stock of the world! GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUTTS AND DO THE RIGHT THING!

    April 9, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  18. ghostriter

    Conservatives still have yet to provide a single argument against any of this that holds water. What do we have?

    Unconstitutional – Wrong. The SC said rights can be regulated.
    Laws will affect law abiding citizens – Wrong, your rights aren't be "infringed" upon.
    This will lead to confiscation – Paranoid conspiracy theories are not what we base our laws on.
    Criminals don't follow laws – Duh! We don't base our laws on who will break them. Plus, it provides a punishment and a means to get criminals off the streets.

    Seriously, you guys have got to stop listening to the fringe elements. We went thru alot of this the past 5 years. Birth certificates, death panels Fast and Furious, Solyndra, Benghazi, etc. You guys have spoiuted anything and everything just to find something you can be upset about. Even when you complain about the budget, you fail to recognize your own parties' inability to put one together that a non-partisan economist would say is feasible. Quit listening to folks who's sole purpose is political mayhem and start looking at this stuff for what it really is.

    April 9, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. Pocono Shooting

    The purpose of the Second Amendment is to arm people in order to prevent future tyranny. They need the tools to do this.

    The term "Well Regulated" in the Second Amendment meant "Well Manned and Equipped " in 1791 as was determined in the 1939 United States v. Miller case after referencing the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The concept of Government Regulation, as we understand it today, did not exist at the time.

    United States v. Miller also determined that the term "Arms" refers to "Ordinary Military Weapons" (not crew operated). American Citizens have the right to Keep and Bear, which means Own and Carry, any weapons that a soldier carries into battle. That includes past, present and future weapons. A Militia consisted of armed volunteers willing to fight with their personal arms and not under government control.

    The 2008 Heller v. Washington DC decision reaffirmed that the Right to Bear Arms was an Individual right. The 2010 McDonald v. Chicago decision reaffirmed it yet again and made it clear that it applies to every state, every city and every town in the United States.

    To limit the Second Amendment to muskets would be the equivalent of limiting the First Amendment to writings in quill pens.

    Liberty is worth the risk of death!

    April 9, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  20. Pocono Shooting

    Expanded background checks will be abused.

    First instance of abuse is where the background checks are used to create in illegal national gun registry.

    The powers that be... can also lower the bar so that a person with a small misdemeanor for a bar fight back when they were in college is considered a prohibited person. In some states / cities excessive speeding or downloading a lot of music can get you a felony charge. Felonies are no longer restricted to violent crimes. How long before spitting on the sidewalk prohibits you from owning a gun?

    Domestic violence is being stretched to include just grabbing someone's wrist or shoving someone out of your way as you walk out the door. Something as minor as a wrist grab can be used deny a person their Second Amendment Rights. No end to the amount of abuse that background checks will eventually lead to.

    In NYC if you have a gun permit, the police randomly call your house and ask your family members if you every display any signs of stress or great anger... and then pick at that. The wrong answers by your family will get your permit revoked.

    The purpose of the Second Amendment is to prevent future tyranny.

    "When the govt fears the people there is liberty. When the people fear govt there is tyranny" – Thomas Jefferson

    ”Those who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.” -Benjamin Franklin

    April 9, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. BSH

    Here's what's NOT right:

    A gun registry (which Senator Schumer and others are pushing as part of their "background check" proposal)
    An "assault weapons" ban (used in almost no crimes and homicides, so unnecessary)
    Magazine capacity limits (again, unnecessary because of rarity in crime, and the lack of any evidence that such limits would save any lives)
    Demonizing law-abiding gun owners and treating them like criminals
    Demagoguery using innocent victims to make an emotional appeal for ideological agendas that have no basis in reason

    So when are the Democrats going to stand up for what IS right? Truth, reason, facts, treating innocent law-abiding people as what they are.

    April 9, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. Guest

    It's all part of the liberal plan to take your eyes off the ball – the real issues i.e. budget, failed socialism, drowning in debt, no jobs, too many regulations – by shamelessly promoting issues that arent really priorities such as amnesty for illegals, gun control and gay marriage with the complicity of the LSM and all of the great social media tools available. Some men you just cant reach......

    April 9, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  23. rs

    The purpose of the Second Amendment is to arm people in order to prevent future tyranny.
    Funny, it doesn't say that in the Constitution, nor are there any Supreme Court cases to back up that assertion. That is just the mindless drivel handed out by the anti-American, pro-criminal NRA out looking to sell more guns.

    April 9, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. rs

    Notice he always parades the Newtown parents or CT children as "props"...
    Funny, in watching their news conferences (something you apparently can't be bothered with) it is quite clear that the Newtown parents want to testify before Congress and express their grief and anger at the NRA's support for crazy people to use military-grade weapons to dismember their children, and that fools like them (who are in a tiny minority) hold up common sense gun law reforms that MORE than 90% of Americans want.

    April 9, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. rs


    "It's all part of the liberal plan to take your eyes off the ball – the real issues i.e. budget...."
    Paranoid much?

    April 9, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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