Obama says he's 'determined as ever' for gun bill

Associated Press

President Barack Obama hugs Newtown, Conn., family members after speaking at the University of Hartford in Hartford, Conn., on Monday. Obama said that lawmakers have an obligation to the children killed and other victims of gun violence to act on his proposals.

HARTFORD, Conn. — With time running out on the chance to pass gun control legislation, President Barack Obama on Monday warned Congress not to use delaying tactics against tighter regulations and told families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims that he's "determined as ever" to honor their children with tougher laws.

Obama's gun control proposals have run into resistance on Capitol Hill, leaving their fate in doubt. Efforts by Senate Democrats to reach compromise with Republicans over expanding required federal background checks have yet to yield an agreement, and conservatives were promising to try blocking the Senate from even beginning debate on gun control legislation.

"The day Newtown happened was the toughest day of my presidency," Obama said in an emotional speech from Connecticut's capital, an hour's drive from Newtown. "But I've got to tell you, if we don't respond to this, that'll be a tough day for me too."

Some of the Sandy Hook families are making an attempt to push through the bill. Obama met with them privately before his speech at the University of Hartford Monday evening, then brought 12 family members back to Air Force One for the trip back to Washington. The relatives want to meet with senators who've yet to back the legislation to encourage their support in memory of their loved ones.

"Nothing's going to be more important in making sure that the Congress moves forward this week than hearing from them," Obama said. His eyes teared as he described Nicole Hockley, who lost her 6-year-old son, Dylan, saying how she asks him every night to come to her in her dreams so she can see him again.

"If there's even one thing we can do to prevent a father from having to bury his child, isn't that worth fighting for?" Obama asked.

Obama's speech was interrupted repeatedly by standing ovations from the packed gymnasium. At one point, the room erupted with chants of "We want a vote!" Audience members, many wearing green ribbons in support of the victims, were stomping their feet on the bleachers and clapping their hands in unison with the chant.

"This is not about me. This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here who have been torn apart by gun violence," Obama said, his voice rising with emotion as he shook his finger in the air.

Obama argued that lawmakers have an obligation to the children killed and other victims of gun violence to allow an up-or-down vote in the Senate. That would require 50 votes to pass, rather than a procedural maneuver some Republican senators are threatening to require 60 votes, potentially sinking the legislation.

"Some back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that. They're not just saying they'll vote no on ideas that almost all Americans support. They're saying they'll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They're saying your opinion doesn't matter. And that's not right.

Obama rode to the speech with Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who signed sweeping gun control legislation into law Thursday with the Sandy Hook families standing behind him. But legislation in Washington faces a tougher challenge, as the nation's memories of the shooting fade with time and the National Rifle Association wages a formidable campaign against Obama's proposals.

Majority Leader Harry Reid brought gun control legislation to the Senate floor on Monday, though actual debate did not begin. He took the step after receiving a letter from 13 conservative Republican senators including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, saying they would use delaying tactics to try preventing lawmakers from beginning to consider the measure. Such a move takes 60 votes to overcome, a difficult hurdle in the 100-member chamber.

The conservatives said the Democratic measure would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms, citing "history's lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history's warning about the oppression of a government that tries."

Further underscoring the tough road ahead for the Obama-backed legislation, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that the Kentucky Republican would join the filibuster if Reid tries to bring the measure to the floor.

Obama said the vote shouldn't be about his legacy, but about the families in Newtown who haven't moved on to other matters.

"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. In fact, I'm here to ask you to help me show that we can get it done. We're not forgetting."

A group of Sandy Hook families originally planned to travel to Washington earlier on Monday, but the White House offered to give the families a ride so they could also attend Obama's speech before their lobbying push. The White House lit up the steps of Air Force One with flood lights so photographers and television cameras could capture the image of Obama climbing the plane's steps with the families at dusk.

Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter Ana was among the victims at Sandy Hook, held up a sign that said "Love Wins" as she walked toward the steps of Air Force One.

The families' lobbying trip was organized by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit started by community members in the wake of the shooting. "The group is encouraging senators to come together around legislative proposals that will both save lives and respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans," the group said in a statement.

With time running out on negotiations, the White House is making an all-hands-on-deck push this week. Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder planned to promote their plan at the White House on Tuesday with law enforcement officials. First lady Michelle Obama planned to wade into the debate Wednesday with a speech on youth violence in her hometown of Chicago. And on Thursday, Biden was taking part in a discussion on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" with people who have different views on gun control.

Organizing for Action, the grassroots group being formed out of Obama's re-election campaign to support his agenda, said it was launching online ads Monday asking the public to urge their senators to support background checks. The ads will target 11 senators — all Republicans — through Facebook and search engines. An OFA spokesman said the group was not disclosing the cost of the ad campaign.

Gun control is divisive in Newtown, Conn., as in the rest of the country. Not all Sandy Hook families support gun control, and even those involved with the lobbying push organized by Sandy Hook Promise are not backing the assault weapons ban. But those families are asking lawmakers to expand background checks, increase penalties for gun trafficking and limit the size of magazines.

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Zack Lenhert's picture

"Efforts by Senate Democrats

"Efforts by Senate Democrats to reach compromise with Republicans over expanding required federal background checks have yet to yield an agreement, and conservatives were promising to try blocking the Senate from even beginning debate on gun control legislation."

This is the real tragedy... Republicans don't want to vote against universal background checks that 90% of Americans support because it would be politically detrimental, so they filibuster and won't even allow a vote.

The GOP is not serious about finding solutions to gun violence. They support the status quo, one of the highest gun violence/homicide rates in the developed world.

Bob Berry's picture

heartstrings v. head

My heartstrings are pulled. I feel terrible for those folks that suffered through this despicable act of evil.

Fortunately, I do my thinking with my head. Gun control is not about guns, it's about control.

Mark Elliott's picture

If Obama cared about the

If Obama cared about the children as much as he wants us all to believe, he would have defunded planned parenthood by now! He is only using our love for our children against us.......a classic marxist strategy. Its textbook folks!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Parenthood does good work for many

You need to investigate what they do as a total of work, and assistance, they perform for the lower income public.

If you think, which I doubt, since you are probably Fox indoctrinated, and seem to rant on this issue on other pages the same rhetoric, that they do much much more for women than abortion work.

So in your way of thinking they need to throw out the baby, the bathwater and the tube because you have issues about others abortions.

So you would rather have them have NOTHING since you, want to save the world to have more children without homes and a future.

Better yet you should volunteer so that all of those unwanted children can live with you and you care for them, since you are wanting to force others to live under your expectations.

Ignorance is Bliss, and your sandbox is very very small.

Mark Elliott's picture

You're right...ignorance is

You're right...ignorance is bliss. You should research the woman that founded planned parenthood......

Zack Lenhert's picture

The Founding Fathers were

The Founding Fathers were slave owners!!!

Mark Elliott's picture

At THAT time it was

At THAT time it was acceptable by MOST of society.......then Lincoln became President, and the Republican party was formed to fight the democrats and put an end to slavery. Democrats responded by forming and supporting the KKK........Democrats continue to enslave minorities today by making it almost impossible for them to get off of the free programs they, themselves, created....therefore, sealing a voting block. Minorities vote mostly democrat because democrats "give them free stuff".....what they don't realize, is democrats don't want them to be able to get off welfare. Once they start thinking on their own, they become conservatives. Democrats are still today, slave owners by proxy.

Zack Lenhert's picture

You fail to mention the

You fail to mention the racist Dixiecrats of the the South switching to the Republican side of the aisle during the Civil Rights Movement... being a little selective in our history.

"At THAT time it was acceptable by MOST of society"... thank you for making my point regarding the founder of Planned Parenthood.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


What has a founder, of a women have to do with with the services they provide TODAY, for low income and health needs...

Her goal in life:
Sanger admitted her entire life's purpose was to promote birth control.

The organization provides much more than her 18th century goals and remember the time she founded it...again what do you prefer they change the name, or shut it down to provide the services in another arena, not just abortion....your scope of the bigger picture is astounding...


What other country banned guns?

What other country banned guns then became a tyranny upon its citizens? NAZI GERMANY with no fear of retaliation from their people these Nazi politicians were free to run amok. Their first start was to have all guns registered to their owners then confiscate them in a sweep. Also we can see the constitution warns us of impending attack and allows for A WELL ARMED MILITIA should someone like N Korea attack they would have more fear against the people than any army, such as Russia encountered Afghanistan. Are these dangerous? yes, but so are cars. More people die in car accidents than by guns, so should we ban them?.


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