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. rs

    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)
    yeah, be sure to mention that to the families and surviving victims of Newtown and Colorado. Keep us posted on how that goes.

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

    First instance of abuse is where the background checks are used to create in illegal national gun registry.
    So you actually think no one knows you own guns? Not the store owner? Not the manufacturer (you sent the warranty card to)? Not the online stores or catalogs you buy stuff from? Not your bank? Your homeowners' insurance agent? Shoot, it would be soooo easy these days to put a list of gun owners together with computer/internet technology.

    Say, anyone sieze your car lately?

    April 9, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. The One

    LOL .... *sigh* .... LOL

    Think I'll go buy another firearm to add to my collection. Maybe a few more standard capacity magazines.

    You people crack me up.

    April 9, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. bearitstrong

    "recent polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans favor making a change to the background check system"

    The obstructionists which are blocking debate on this issues should be ashamed... but the are not, because of self-serving interests.

    April 9, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. rs

    LOL .... *sigh* .... LOL

    Think I'll go buy another firearm to add to my collection. Maybe a few more standard capacity magazines.

    You people crack me up.
    The wars in Iraq and Afgahnistan are wrapping up. Corporate America is probably very prowd that their minions in the NRA have convinced to to buy another firearms.

    I bet you are proud of your freedom to do what the NRA tells you!

    April 9, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. USVET

    OK, here's some insight for those who are against guns...yes you have to register your car and to vote, but guess what? That gives a government agency vital information on where to locate you. I'm also pretty sure that when a background check is made, that a govenment agency is recording the information despite assurances to the contrary. Otherwise why would the gun dealer need to give NICs the serial number of the firearm? However, NONE of the legislation enacted or proposed will stop violence. In fact, the legislation in NY and Missouri will deprive lawful citizens the right to own firearms in their homes. That is an INFRINGEMENT on Constitutional rights.

    The prejudicial statements Feinstein made regarding veterans with guns only reveals that those that want to control firearms do not care about protecting Constitutional rights and reveal the egomaniacal fanatism she harbors.

    April 9, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. USVET

    bearitstrong – which polls? Those by Feinstein supporters of those of American citizens who realize that the proposed gun controls will not stop violence? BTW _ even Obama admitted that one.

    April 9, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. Mark

    It's so funny that you believe a majority of people believe is in reality a small sample poll from a Liberal base. Of course they are against guns and anything else normal.

    April 9, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. sally-ann

    Just v ban all guns. Public safety comes before gun manufacturers profit.

    April 9, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. cboy619

    The purpose of guns in american's hands, is to protect the public from a crazy government. Sure, we can trust things will work today, heck they may work great in our lifetime. But at some point, the government will become tyranical and the only way to stop a tyranical government is through force.

    Slowly we are losing our freedoms, freedoms people have died to protect, and we're going to sign it all away because some lunatic got his MOM's unlocked gun!

    How will these controls stop crazies like these from getting guns? It won't! If he breaks into someones home and steals their gun, guess what...crazy man has a gun...

    April 9, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. USVET

    For those that want to tighten, ban, or restrict access to firearms...on Feb 15, 2006, Christopher Hales was killed by a twice convicted felon, with a 20 year long criminal history. That felon had been arrested just 5 months previously with a gun in his possession. Between that time and Mr. Hales death, the felon was re-arrested and released on bond for at least 4 other felonies. I ask you this...why was this felon out on bond? especially after being arrested with a gun in his possession.

    I'll tell you why. Every bleeding heart that pushed for lighter sentencing and bonds for criminals have weakened our judicial system. They have put criminals back on the street to prey on citizens because it is inhumane to keep someone in prison or jail without bond.

    If you really want to make the streets safer push for tighter criminal punishment laws. If you are pushing the anti-gun movement agenda, then you have the blood of Christopher Hales on your hands and are no better than the Sandy Hook shooter.

    April 9, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. duane - st.pete FL

    this entire thing is an over reaction....work on keeping guns out of the hands of mental cases.....that's what we need...not bans are any of that stuff that will not make a differance. You think if this guy had five 10 round magazines and a 9mm it would have made ANY differance? no, sadly not. So then....if these laws they are pushing will not and can not stop a nut from doing the same thing again....why are they pushing this? Beacuse Obama wants you disarmed........and dependent on big daddy goverment....no thanks.

    April 9, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. Frank

    While Obama accuses the Republicans of political moves to block the vote on HIS gun control measures, isn’t that exactly what Obama is doing when he preaches from CT? He wants background checks, checks that have long been in place, long before his presidency. Though, as soon as he took office, lessened if not dissolved the funding for investigations into the very same background checks he now proclaims he wants. That is so very odd because he wants the checks, but did not continue to fund them in the first place. As he continues his political campaign against firearms, he states “Sensible gun control measures that most Americans want.” Really? What most Americans want? It appears as though most Americans wish to keep their firearms, but do not wish to have them fall into the hands of anyone bent on destruction that will not and has not cared about any law. This will not occur under the Obama Gun Laws because they are the same failed restrictions of the past. We already have laws, within the current Instant Background Check system that does not allow convicted felons or even those of who have not been convicted, but are on a restraining/protection order (which are used for anything from stalking, to mentally Ill and domestic violence arrestees’). Well Mr. President, how about funding for additional investigators and mental health issues? No, POTUS does not want sensible gun control, because if he did then he would be honest to the American people and put forth legislation that actually will make a difference. Those wishing to block the current policies from going through wish to have laws that are enforceable, that will make a difference and are not eye candy that does nothing to prevent or stop criminals. How preposterous for the president to use the death of children to push his personal agenda.

    April 9, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. Eric

    Ther funny thing is these polls only come from about a couple thousand people. Theres no way to get the real survey which they would no publish anyway because it goes against there views. Everything there passing is unconstitutional and all should be thrown in jail for taking away our constitutional rights!!!!

    April 9, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. Guest

    When the facts are obiviously incorrect simply parrot, and parrot, and parrot, and parrot until you have a liberal consensus. Also known as a democratic mandate...ha ha! They fail to realize that most Americans value their constitutional rights, imagine that!

    April 9, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. Dave

    I like the picture in this article. If I have to should a picture that represents complete failure I would use this picture, the one of the most incompetent and unaccomplished president of the USA. For a minute I was doubting, G. W. Bush or B. Obama but it is clear that Obama is worse.

    April 9, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Rossi

    The American civilian population currently owns the highest number of guns per capita of any country in the world. More than twice that of our nearest country in 2nd place.

    The USA currently experiences gun violence rates in excess of 3-times that of any nation which we are most comparable to economically, socially, and politically. Please examine figures for England, Germany, France, Canada, and Japan. For the sake of point, let's examine the USA's largest trading partner and our closest ally politically, economically, socially, racially, and geographically. Gun violence rates in the USA are 5-times higher than that of Canada. A country with significantly stronger regulations on civilian gun ownership than here in the states. A common trait shared in England, France, Germany, and Japan. This is a shameful situation for our nation. It points to a lower degree of ethics, morality, and humanity than those countries in the world for which we are most comparable. Based upon these facts, how is it that we here in America are correct on this point and our closest international allies are all wrong. How will producing, buying, and selling even more guns unabated result in reducing gun violence in America. It won't. That's ridiculous and anyone who thinks so is a fool.

    April 9, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Guest

    Rossi – move to another country if you will feel safer but leave the rights of others alone. I see you dont mind using your right to free speech.....

    April 9, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. ColdWarVet


    The American civilian population currently owns the highest number of guns per capita of any country in the world. More than twice that of our nearest country in 2nd place.

    Actually you are wrong. Switzerland has the highest per capita of firearms in that every male in the reserves (18-45) must maintain their assault weapon and ammunition at home.

    April 9, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. irene

    The gun nuts who keep posting on these blogs are a shrill, abusive minority. 73% of Americans want protections from these bullies with universal regisration, background checks, smaller magazines, and laws to keep guns out of the hands of the unstable. They can hyjack these blogs all they want but we know it is the same few cads posting over and over again, hoping to make thier number look inflated when they are a very small minority of selfish bullies. News flash... The vast majority of the world does not need guns for protection, try talking and listening first. You would be surprised what you might learn when you open your mind and drop your weapon.

    April 9, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. Jerry K

    I find the 90% crazy for the fact that if that were true out of all the people I know someone would have been contacted in that poll and I have family in almost every state and friends everywhere none of them have been called or contacted or talked to someone about this. It is just another inflated number from the idiot pretending to be president.

    April 9, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. wade

    Who int he hell does he think he is? GOD? Dictator? There are three branches of GOV. He has no right to be scolding any one especially since he is the most failed and irresponsible president in history! Good grief he is a narcissistic maniac!

    April 9, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. SpencerRifle

    This is nothing more than a power grab by the federal government. They have no power or authority to regulate intrastate commerce, that is commerce that takes place solely within a particular state. Currently gun purchases from licensed dealers are regulated under interstate commerce law, which the feds have to power to regulate, but after that if a gun is sold second-hand within a particular state it is now an intrastate matter & no longer under the power of the feds. It is solely the jurisdiction of the individual state to regulate it. If the federal government can claim it can regulate the intrastate transactions of guns then it will grab all the power it can & regulate everything possible.

    April 9, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Fubarack

    There is a reason Obama did not do gun control when he had majorities. There are not the votes even with the dems, and the people sure don't want socialism. Harry Reid has already protected his peeps from showing a vote on the AWB by taking it off the table.

    April 9, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. Fubarack

    If gun grabbers had anywhere near 50% support, they would have already had a vote. Depending on how the question is framed, the grabbers have only 10-30 percent support for socialism.

    April 9, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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