President Barack Obama, his voice rising with emotion, urged Americans to pile pressure on a reluctant Congress on Monday to approve new gun control legislation that is at risk of falling victim to Washington gridlock.
‚ÄúIn fact,‚ÄĚ he said, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm here to ask you to help me show that we can get it done.
President Obama came here, to the University of Hartford‚Äôs basketball arena, on Monday before a roaring, enthusiastic crowd to remember the tragedy of 20 children and 6 educators slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School and put new pressure on a recalcitrant Congress to honor them with gun-control legislation.
He recalled last December‚Äôs slaughter of 20 small children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School as the toughest day of his presidency and added, ‚ÄúIf we don‚Äôt respond to this, that will be a tough day for me, too.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got to expect more from ourselves,‚ÄĚ he continued. ‚ÄúAnd we‚Äôve got to expect more from Congress. We‚Äôve got to believe that, you know, well, every once in a while we set politics aside and we just do what‚Äôs right.‚ÄĚ
“Connecticut, this is not about me,” he said. “This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been torn apart by gun violence.”
Initial momentum for tougher U.S. gun control laws sought by Obama has stalled in Congress in the face of fierce lobbying by the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups.
No major gun legislation has passed the U.S. Congress since 1994 and the current White House guns push is in trouble, reports Reuters.
Actually, Obama‚Äôs visit to Connecticut is a start of a critical week on Capitol Hill that could determine the fate of his sweeping gun-control agenda, with signs that senators may be nearing a deal to expand background-check requirements but with other proposals in serious jeopardy.
‚ÄúI know that some of these proposals inspire more debate than others, but each of them has the support of the majority of the American people,‚ÄĚ Obama said. ‚ÄúAll of them are common sense. All of them deserve a vote.‚ÄĚ
The President was cheered so loudly that it was difficult at times to hear the president‚Äôs remarks. At one point, people interrupted Obama with chants of, ‚ÄúWe want a vote! We want a vote! We want a vote!‚ÄĚ
But as Mr. Obama spoke, Republicans on Capitol Hill were threatening to prevent a gun-control measure from even coming up for debate.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced Monday that he would join at least 13 other Republicans who have vowed to block consideration of gun legislation passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and assembled by the Democratic leadership.
That effectively made the threatened filibuster a test of Republican unity.
The announcement was made as the Senate returned from recess and the legislative struggle over new gun safety legislation entered a critical phase.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, took steps to force a vote to start a broad review of gun-control proposals and accused those threatening a filibuster of ‚Äúblatant obstruction,‚ÄĚ even as they showed no signs of backing down, writes the NY Times.
Obama has invited 11 parents of children killed in Newtown to fly back to Washington with him aboard Air Force One after his speech. The parents are set to lobby Congress this week for gun control measures, although it may be too late to rescue major legislation sought by Obama.
Some of Obama’s proposals – reinstating a U.S. ban on assault weapons and cracking down on high-capacity ammunition clips – already appear to have little chance of passing the Democratic-led Senate, let alone the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.