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. just sayin

    Please trust in our politicians, they only want what's best for us. Obama 2016

    yeah we saw this movie in the 1930s in Germany. no thank you.

    April 8, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. ghostriter

    Zondar, I believe I also read where they settled a lawsuit and admitted that it was wrong. Of course, the national guard means that went thru the Governor as well. If not the white house.

    It would seem that the system worked. They were called out on it and admitted their guilt.

    It's still a reach. Perhaps the only reason the police did such was because it was New Orleans. Had it been say Alabama, it would have made the news simply due to all the law enforcement agents getting shot. All heck would have broke loose and a huge fight would have happened. In other words, it would not have happened.

    To say that a mayor was able to have his police unarm citizens during a time of crisis does not compare to the president and congress passing laws doing that and having the US military do the collecting. It would never get past congress (even democrats are against that) and the military would not go for it.

    You guys can play hypotheticals all day long. But don't use that as an excuse to not pass laws that make sense. Especially in light of these same folks (not saying you, you actually seem not extreme) who were so willing to violate voting rights, the rights of citizens with the likes of the AZ immigration laws and the all too familiar stop and frisk laws.

    In other words, you are listening to folks who never really care about rights until theirs are in "question".

    April 8, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Wes

    The uhbama is a disaster.

    April 8, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. SSGRoger

    Oh thanks this reminds me my order of Hi-capacity magazines are in today to pick up. Adds my my couple dozen already.

    April 8, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. canofpencils

    DCvs Miller and a plethora of other cases make a mockery of Obamas efforts. There is a right and common usage makes the AR-15 one weapon allowed. The people will prevail and they are not anti gun

    April 8, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. york

    Obviously, Obama doesn't know anything about economic, that is why he focus all his attention on the guns, immigrations, gays.... And those actions could give DEM a lot of voters in the future and ... who care jobs? Right? Obama?

    April 8, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Dean

    Obama, you resign and I'll back gun control.

    April 8, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @ Obama dept.of

    Based on your silly sarcasm and incompetence, you hardly deserve a response.

    April 8, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Drew

    Blah Blah Blah
    1 no.
    2. No such thing. All my weapons are for hunting, target shooting and ANTI-Assault (home or tyranny) But to answer your question, What Feinstien has proposed would prevent the my future purchase of weapons of my choice yes.
    3 Yes and No. The ONLY thing that stops a crazy with a gun, is someone in their right mind with cold blue steel. You may not believe in God or in Guns but when you hear that glass break at 2:00 am the first thing you will do is call someone with a gun and pray he gets there in time. He will get there in time to do his job, which is NOT what Hollywood has made. He will run the rape kit on your wife, bag both your bodies and investigate the crime that took place.

    Real answer to your question YES we can meet in the middle. National background checks I have no problem with. Reform it. FBI has 48hrs to expunge ALL records of ALL passed background checks. Keep the failed and oh I don't know ENFORCE THE LAWS ON THE BOOKS AND GO AFTER THE FAILED BG CHECKS. That IS a viable solution if you can't agree with that. I am afraid you are even too radical for me to agree with.

    April 8, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  10. canofpencils

    DC vs Miller and the rest of the supreme court rulings. Good luck obama and bloomberg. 'Common usage' makes the AR-15 legal and not at the mercy of left wing cowards. There are way too many guns out here now- do you think you can put this genie back in the bottle?

    April 8, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Nonsense

    @Jack, "...the second ammendment does not actually say you have the right to bear arms".
    Actually, it does: "...the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." It does not state the right of the Militia to keep and bear arms. I believe if their intent was to guarantee the right of firearm ownership only to (gov't) regulated militias, they would have been quite clear about that.

    April 8, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. ghostriter

    Nonsense, my point was more along the lines that the people would never support it. Congress would not support it. Even if by some chance an extreme left president was elected and had a radically left congress. Were such legislation to pass, I highly doubt law enforcement would follow thru. Nor the military. I would actually expect an actual war over this. Wouldn't take long and the government would be forced out.

    And guess what......I'd support that action as would most.

    April 8, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. Bill

    Folks, if you believe the President you are living in a dream world. "Universal background checks" are universal registration. How will a law enforcement agency ever know if a background check was done if they don't keep a record of the checks? (which is already in violation of federal law) That is a registry. A registry is the next step toward confiscation.

    April 8, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. Whataboutthis

    There are a lot of considerations regarding mandatory background checks for all sales and transfers of firearms. For example a man dies of unforeseen causes; he has a gun registered to him that he purchased before he was married. 1 year after his death the man’s wife finds the gun that she never knew he owned. Currently the temporary transfer covers next of Kin in this situation. If not written correctly his wife would be in immediate violation of the law even though she unknowingly had access to the gun after his death without a background check.

    What the plan? Change the system to allow multiple individuals registered to a single gun? Can you imagine the potential issues there? I support back ground checks for sales and transfers but there are some gray areas that need to be addressed. FYI this situation could happen to the most adamant anti-gun person.

    April 8, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. Marcus Takatoa

    A speech about gun violence would be more meaningful in Chicago.

    April 8, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Cam

    We so quickly forget the pitches he made to get re-elected in the spirit of these "new" pitches. Golf clap lemmings, we allow it to happen (with our votes). We've left behind bad programs like "No Child Left Behind" in favor of "No Accountability left in DC."

    April 8, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. maxmanta

    Stop saying "gun safety" bills. There is NOTHING in the new CT laws about gun safety. It is a BAN.

    It's very telling they they must lie about their bills in order to get them passed.

    April 8, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |

    We don't need to protect families. Surrender the guns and board the train. Remember 1941 ? Drone above for our protection, gun control for our protection, taxes doubled for our protection; and soon people will be killed for our protection

    April 8, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. Mohamed

    The NRA is right to NOT give an inch. Every time some one "compromises" with Obama it turns out to be a one way street. In general the liberal agenda is to chip-away at individual freedoms and responsibilities. They would have us all be wards of the govt – because, after all, govt knows best... bwhahahaha

    April 8, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. gijames1225

    Always nice and terrifying when the US government starts wanting to legislating away more human rights. I miss the good old days when my neighbors weren't voting on how to run my life.

    April 8, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. ChrisIA

    Those poor parents are never going to be able to stand up straight again if he doesn't stop grandstanding on their backs.

    April 8, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. notaposter


    Please trust in our politicians, they only want what's best for us. Obama 2016.


    Har har har,

    Oh wait, you're serious? Let me laugh even harder


    April 8, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Here's another daunting question for you "good guy with a gun" advocates across America. I bet you can't answer it!

    Well, here's the question anyway...what if the current legislation being proposed could or would one day prevent your love ones from being another statistic. Would you support or still oppose this legislation? I kindly await your response!

    April 8, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. Terry

    May gun owners have no problems with expanded background checks. They are tired of being smeared with the same brush as the antisocial deviants who commit crimes with guns. The dilemma for these gun owners is that they know that this is only the first step of the gun control advocates in their goal for total confiscation of firearms in America.

    Gun control advocates, be honest, total confiscation guns is your ultimate goal. To you, the Second Amendment is merely a temporary roadblock.

    April 8, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Yes and No. The ONLY thing that stops a crazy with a gun, is someone in their right mind with cold blue steel. "

    Don't forget the superhero cape and hundreds of hours of studying Delta Force and Walker Texas Ranger. It's not the gun that stops crime, it's the well prepared superhero.

    April 8, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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