Mr. LaPierre and the NRA have consistently opposed Mr. Obama’s proposals to ban so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips and require universal background checks on gun sales in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., two months ago. The NRA is instead calling for increased armed security at the nation’s public schools as a way to decrease gun violence.
“Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he said, referring to the former congresswoman wounded by a gunman. “The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.”
As he spoke, lawmakers rose to their feet and Democrats raised their voices in a crescendo of approval.
Among the guests seated in the first lady’s box for the speech were the parents of a slain Chicago teen, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 students and six educators were slain in December, and a Wisconsin police officer who was wounded in a shooting spree in August at a Sikh temple.
Tea party activists, and conservatives in general, have accused Mr. Obama of repeatedly violating the Constitution as the founders wrote it. But Mr. Obama, embracing what has become known as the theory of a “living Constitution,” said the document is aspirational.
“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” Mr. Obama said. “We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.”
“We’re told that wanting the same technology that the criminals and our leaders keep for themselves is a form of ‘absolutism’ and that accepting less freedom and protection for ourselves is the only ‘principled’ way to live,” Mr. LaPierre said. “Think about what that means. Barack Obama is saying that the only ‘principled’ way to make children safe is to make lawful citizens less safe and violent criminals more safe.”
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David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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