Obama steps up pressure to pass gun measures

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With polls showing waning support for new gun control measures, President Obama delivered an emotional and forceful plea aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Congress to pass a broad bill more than 100 days after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Flanked by police officials and mothers affected by gun violence, Mr. Obama said “none of these ideas should be controversial” and they should be ashamed if people have already lost interest in December’s Sandy Hook massacre.


SEE ALSO: Gun control efforts persist but public support dims


“Shame on us if we’ve forgotten,” Mr. Obama said Thursday at a White House event.

“Some voices on the other side” want to prevent any action on imposing more restrictions on gun ownership, he said. “Their assumption is that people will just forget about it.”

But Mr. Obama’s renewed his call for more comprehensive background checks and to limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds face tough sledding on Capitol Hill.

It remains unclear what specific gun measures can actually get through the Democrat-controlled Senate, let alone the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Near-universal background checks on gun sales, including private sales, is likely the most ambitious piece of legislation gun control advocates can hope for at this point, and bipartisan talks on a compromise plan recently stalled after disagreements arose over record-keeping issues on the sales.

Several Senate Republicans on Thursday accused Mr. Obama of trying to benefit politically from mass shootings such as Newtown.


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“The proposals the president is calling for Congress to pass would primarily serve to reduce the constitutionally protected rights of law-abiding citizens while having little or no effect on violent crime,” said Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, in a statement released after the White House event. “It is deeply unfortunate that he continues to use the tragedy at Newtown as a backdrop for pushing legislation that would have done nothing to prevent that horrible crime.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, decided Thursday to join Mr. Lee and Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas in threatening to filibuster gun control legislation that impedes peoples’ Second Amendment rights and to do so without “being subjected to government surveillance.” Earlier this week Mr. Lee, Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz notified Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, of their intentions.

The White House is facing new polls that suggest the surge of popular support for new restrictions on gun ownership and sales right after Newtown has waned as Congress struggles to come up with an acceptable bill.

A CBS News poll released Tuesday shows public support for stricter gun control laws has dropped since December. Support for tougher gun laws stands at 47 percent this week, compared to 57 percent after the shootings. Thirty-nine percent want the laws kept as they are, and another 11 percent want them to be made less strict.

During his event, Mr. Obama paused a few moments several times in his remarks, referring to the 26 first-graders and educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“I haven’t forgotten those kids,” he said as the women surrounding him teared up and some openly sobbed.

“Tears aren’t enough. Expressions of sympathy aren’t enough. Speeches aren’t enough,” Mr. Obama said.

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