Full Text Obama Presidency June 18, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Charleston Church Shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the Shooting in Charleston, South Carolina

Source: WH, 6-18-15

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:20 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  This morning, I spoke with, and Vice President Biden spoke with, Mayor Joe Riley and other leaders of Charleston to express our deep sorrow over the senseless murders that took place last night.

Michelle and I know several members of Emanuel AME Church.  We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others, gathered in prayer and fellowship and was murdered last night.  And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.

Any death of this sort is a tragedy.  Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy.  There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.

Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church.  This is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty.  This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery.  When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret.  When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country closer in line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church’s steps.  This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.

The FBI is now on the scene with local police, and more of the Bureau’s best are on the way to join them.  The Attorney General has announced plans for the FBI to open a hate crime investigation.  We understand that the suspect is in custody.  And I’ll let the best of law enforcement do its work to make sure that justice is served.

Until the investigation is complete, I’m necessarily constrained in terms of talking about the details of the case.  But I don’t need to be constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise.  I’ve had to make statements like this too many times.  Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.  We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.  Now is the time for mourning and for healing.

But let’s be clear:  At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.  It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.  And it is in our power to do something about it.  I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now.  But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it.  And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.

The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history.  This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked.  And we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.

The good news is I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today, from all races, from all faiths, from all places of worship indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.  That, certainly, was Dr. King’s hope just over 50 years ago, after four little girls were killed in a bombing in a black church in Birmingham, Alabama.

He said they lived meaningful lives, and they died nobly.  “They say to each of us,” Dr. King said, “black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution.  They say to us that we must be concerned not merely with [about] who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.  Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American Dream.

“And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him, and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.”

Reverend Pinckney and his congregation understood that spirit.  Their Christian faith compelled them to reach out not just to members of their congregation, or to members of their own communities, but to all in need.  They opened their doors to strangers who might enter a church in search of healing or redemption.

Mother Emanuel church and its congregation have risen before –- from flames, from an earthquake, from other dark times -– to give hope to generations of Charlestonians.  And with our prayers and our love, and the buoyancy of hope, it will rise again now as a place of peace.

Thank you.

END
12:28 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines August 29, 2013: Obama administration takes executive gun control actions

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Obama administration takes executive gun control actions

Source: LAT, 8-29-13

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Thursday it had closed a loophole in the gun laws that allowed the acquisition of machine guns and other weapons and had banned U.S….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 30, 2013: Threatening Ricin Laced Letter Sent to President Obama Similar to Pair Sent to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Threatening Letter to Obama Similar to Pair Sent to Bloomberg

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-30-13 

Authorities intercepted a letter addressed to President Barack Obama at a White House mail-sorting facility that was similar to the ones targeting Bloomberg, according to The New York Times. The letter was turned over to the FBI task force investigating the letters sent to Bloomberg, at least one of which tested positive for ricin….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 29, 2013: NYC’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gun Control HQ Mailed Ricin Laced Letters

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg, Gun Control HQ Targeted in Ricin Mailings

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-29-13

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City police say two verbally poisonous letters sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg contained traces of actual poision: ricin. The author of the letters, police say, targeted Bloomberg because of his support for gun control measures….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: Harry Reid to ‘Hit Pause’ on Gun Background Check Bill

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Harry Reid to ‘Hit Pause’ on Gun Background Check Bill

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-18-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that it was time to take a breath and regroup in the wake of a sweeping defeat on gun legislation this week.

“I’ve spoken with the president,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “He and I agree that the best way to keep working towards passing a background check bill is to hit a pause and freeze the background check bill where it is.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines April 17, 2013: President Barack Obama Says Senate Gun Control Defeat Marks ‘Shameful Day for Washington’

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Says Gun Control Defeat Marks ‘Shameful Day for Washington’

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-17-13

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Standing alongside tearful families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, a seething-mad President Obama lashed out against lawmakers who opposed a bill that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers, saying Wednesday marked a “shameful day for Washington.”

“There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics,” the president said in a Rose Garden statement shortly after the Senate defeated the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey amendment….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 17, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Statement After Senate Vote Blocks Gun Control Legislation

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Senate Votes to Block Expanded Background Checks for Gun Sales

Source: WH, 4-17-13
Surrounded by Americans whose lives and families had been forever changed by gun violence, President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden about today’s Senate vote on expanded background checks for gun sales.

A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies — including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers –- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.

Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders –- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children. And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.

“A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks,” President Obama said. “But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.”

The President said that the legislation showed respect for victims of gun violence and gun owners alike. “Nobody could honestly claim that this legislation infringed on our Second Amendment rights,” he said. “All it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet.”

But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun.  There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this.  It came down to politics — the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections.

“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” President Obama said. “But this effort isn’t over.  I want to make it clear to the American people that we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as you don’t give up. “

He promised that his administration would keep doing everything it can to protect our kids and communities. “But we can do more if Congress gets its act together,” he said.

“Those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate, and as organized, and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe.”

The President said that he sees today’s vote as the end of round one.

I believe we’re going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it. And so do the American people.

Make your voice heard. Speak out if you support common-sense steps to reduce gun violence

Statement by the President

Source: WH, 4-17-13

Rose Garden

5:35 P.M. EDT

MR. BARDEN:  Hello.  My name is Mark Barden.  Just four months ago, my wife Jackie and I lost our son, and our children, James and Natalie, they lost their little brother Daniel.  Daniel was a first-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Our sweet, 7-year-old Daniel was one of 20 children, six adults lost on December 14th.  I have to say it feels like it was just yesterday.

In our deepest grief, we were supported by the love of our families and comforted by the love and prayers we received from millions of America, from every corner of the country.

What happened in Newtown can happen anywhere.  In any instant, any dad in America could be in my shoes.  No one should feel the pain.  No one should feel our pain or the pain felt by the tens of thousands of people who’ve lost loved ones to senseless gun violence.

And that’s why we’re here.  Two weeks ago, 12 of us from Newtown came to meet with U.S. senators and have a conversation about how to bring common-sense solutions to the issues of gun violence.  We came with a sense of hope, optimistic that real conversation could begin that would ultimately save the lives of so many Americans.  We met with dozens of Democrats and Republicans and shared with them pictures of our children, our spouses, our parents who lost their lives on December 14th.

Expanded background checks wouldn’t have saved our loved ones, but still we came to support the bipartisan proposal from two senators, both with “A” ratings from the NRA — a common-sense proposal supported by 90 percent of Americans.  It‘s a proposal that will save lives without interfering with the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

We’ll return home now, disappointed but not defeated.  We return home with the determination that change will happen — maybe not today, but it will happen.  It will happen soon.  We’ve always known this would be a long road, and we don’t have the luxury of turning back.  We will keep moving forward and build public support for common-sense solutions in the areas of mental health, school safety, and gun safety.

We take strength from the children and loved ones that we lost, and we carry a great faith in the American people.

On behalf of the Sandy Hook Promise, I would like to thank President Obama, Vice President Biden for their leadership and for standing strong and continuing to fight for a safer America. I would like to thank Senators Toomey, Manchin, Schumer and Kirk on coming together to seek common ground on legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals and save lives.

And I would like to thank Connecticut’s Senators Blumenthal and Murphy.  They’ve been right with us.  They stood by us right from the very beginning.  From the first few hours after this tragedy they were with us.

We will not be defeated.  We are not defeated, and we will not be defeated.  We are here now; we will always be here because we have no other choice.  We are not going away.  And every day, as more people are killed in this country because of gun violence, our determination grows stronger.

We leave Washington hoping that others, both here and across the country, will join us in making the Sandy Hook Promise, a pledge that we’d had great hope that more U.S. senators would take literally.  I’d like to end by repeating the words with which the Sandy Hook Promise begins:  Our hearts are broken.  Our spirit is not.

Thank you.  It is now my great pleasure to introduce the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

THE PRESIDENT:  A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies — including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers –- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.

Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders –- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children.  And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it.  They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.

By now, it’s well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun.  We’re talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness.  Ninety percent of Americans support that idea.  Most Americans think that’s already the law.

And a few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate just voted for that idea.  But it’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea.

A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks.  But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.

I’m going to speak plainly and honestly about what’s happened here because the American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 percent support and yet not happen. We had a Democrat and a Republican -– both gun owners, both fierce defenders of our Second Amendment, with “A” grades from the NRA — come together and worked together to write a common-sense compromise on background checks.  And I want to thank Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey for their courage in doing that.  That was not easy given their traditional strong support for Second Amendment rights.

As they said, nobody could honestly claim that the package they put together infringed on our Second Amendment rights.  All it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet.  So 60 percent of guns are already purchased through a background check system; this would have covered a lot of the guns that are currently outside that system.

Their legislation showed respect for gun owners, and it showed respect for the victims of gun violence.  And Gabby Giffords, by the way, is both — she’s a gun owner and a victim of gun violence.  She is a Westerner and a moderate.  And she supports these background checks.

In fact, even the NRA used to support expanded background checks.  The current leader of the NRA used to support these background checks.  So while this compromise didn’t contain everything I wanted or everything that these families wanted, it did represent progress.  It represented moderation and common sense.  That’s why 90 percent of the American people supported it.

But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.  They claimed that it would create some sort of “big brother” gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite.  This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry.  Plain and simple, right there in the text.  But that didn’t matter.

And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.  And I talked to several of these senators over the past few weeks, and they’re all good people.  I know all of them were shocked by tragedies like Newtown.  And I also understand that they come from states that are strongly pro-gun. And I have consistently said that there are regional differences when it comes to guns, and that both sides have to listen to each other.

But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun.  There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this.  It came down to politics — the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections.  They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment.

And obviously, a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too.  And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse — any excuse — to vote “no.”

One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn’t prevent all future massacres.  And that’s true.  As I said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil.  We learned that tragically just two days ago.  But if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand — if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try.

And this legislation met that test.  And too many senators failed theirs.

I’ve heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory.  And my question is, a victory for who?  A victory for what?  All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check.  That didn’t make our kids safer.  Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done?  It begs the question, who are we here to represent?

I’ve heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced.  “A prop,” somebody called them.  “Emotional blackmail,” some outlet said.  Are they serious?  Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue?  Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?

So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

But this effort is not over.  I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don’t give up on it.  Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities.  We’re going to address the barriers that prevent states from participating in the existing background check system.  We’re going to give law enforcement more information about lost and stolen guns so it can do its job.  We’re going to help to put in place emergency plans to protect our children in their schools.

But we can do more if Congress gets its act together.  And if this Congress refuses to listen to the American people and pass common-sense gun legislation, then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters.

To all the people who supported this legislation — law enforcement and responsible gun owners, Democrats and Republicans, urban moms, rural hunters, whoever you are — you need to let your representatives in Congress know that you are disappointed, and that if they don’t act this time, you will remember come election time.

To the wide majority of NRA households who supported this legislation, you need to let your leadership and lobbyists in Washington know they didn’t represent your views on this one.

The point is those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate, and as organized, and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe.  Ultimately, you outnumber those who argued the other way.  But they’re better organized.  They’re better financed.  They’ve been at it longer.  And they make sure to stay focused on this one issue during election time. And that’s the reason why you can have something that 90 percent of Americans support and you can’t get it through the Senate or the House of Representatives.

So to change Washington, you, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this.  And when necessary, you’ve got to send the right people to Washington.  And that requires strength, and it requires persistence.

And that’s the one thing that these families should have inspired in all of us.  I still don’t know how they have been able to muster up the strength to do what they’ve doing over the last several weeks, last several months.

And I see this as just round one.  When Newtown happened, I met with these families and I spoke to the community, and I said, something must be different right now.  We’re going to have to change.  That’s what the whole country said.  Everybody talked about how we were going to change something to make sure this didn’t happen again, just like everybody talked about how we needed to do something after Aurora.  Everybody talked about we needed change something after Tucson.

And I’m assuming that the emotions that we’ve all felt since Newtown, the emotions that we’ve all felt since Tucson and Aurora and Chicago — the pain we share with these families and families all across the country who’ve lost a loved one to gun violence — I’m assuming that’s not a temporary thing.  I’m assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty words.

I believe we’re going to be able to get this done.  Sooner or later, we are going to get this right.  The memories of these children demand it.  And so do the American people.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END                5:55 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines April 17, 2013: Senate Rejects Bipartisan Gun Control Legislation Background Check Measure 54 to 46

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Senate Rejects Bipartisan Background Check Measure

Source: NYT, 4-17-13

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the Capitol before the vote on Wednesday.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the Capitol before the vote on Wednesday.

After several senators its sponsors hoped would support it decided not to, the measure drafted by Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania was defeated, 54 to 46….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 11, 2013: Senate Clears the Way for Debate on New Gun Control Laws with a Vote of 68-31

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Senate Vote Clears the Way for Debate on New Gun Laws

Source: NYT, 4-11-13

Jillian Soto, left, and family members of victims of the Newtown shooting and other gun violence on Thursday before the Senate voted to allow debate on gun legislation.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Jillian Soto, left, and family members of victims of the Newtown shooting and other gun violence on Thursday before the Senate voted to allow debate on gun legislation.

The threat of a filibuster fell to a 68-31 vote. The Senate next week will consider its first major gun-control legislation in two decades, which would expand background checks and add penalties for criminal sales….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 11, 2013: Senate Overcomes GOP Filibuster, Gun Legislation Debate to Begin

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Senate Overcomes GOP Filibuster, Gun Debate to Begin

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-11-13

A full gun debate will begin next week in the Senate.

On a vote of 68-31, Democrats and a smaller coalition of Republicans joined forces to defeat a GOP filibuster threat. The voting began at 11:01 a.m. Eastern time and lasted for about 30 minutes….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 9, 2013: Democrats likely to thwart gun-bill filibuster in Senate

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Democrats likely to thwart gun-bill filibuster

Source: WaPo, 4-9-13

(SAMANTHA SAIS)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) schedules a vote for Thursday, as more than a half-dozen Republican senators have said they will vote to allow consideration of the looming gun-control bill….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 9, 2013: Clock Ticking on Gun Control Debate Amid Threat of Filibuster

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Clock Ticking on Gun Control Debate Amid Threat of Filibuster

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-9-13

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

With a filibuster threat in the air, the gun control debate takes a personal turn Tuesday on Capitol Hill as the families of the Newtown, Conn., shooting implore members of Congress to revive legislation that has stalled nearly four months after the slaying at Sandy Hook Elementary School….

“Find out where your member of Congress stands on this,” Obama said.  “If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them why not.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines April 9, 2013: New CNN Poll: Most Americans Disapprove of President Barack Obama on Guns

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Poll: Most Americans Disapprove of Obama on Guns

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-9-13

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Most Americans disapprove of how President Obama has handled gun-policy issues, a new poll from CNN finds….

CNN and Opinion Research Corp. found that 45 percent approve of Obama’s handling of “gun policy,” while 52 percent disapprove….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 8, 2013: President Barack Obama in Speech at the University of Hartford Demands Gun Control Vote

Obama, with Newtown Families, Demands Gun Control Vote

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-8-13

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking before families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, President Obama made an impassioned and urgent plea for stricter gun laws, as he accused Republicans of threatening to use “political stunts” to block reforms.

“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,” the president told a packed crowd at the University of Hartford, just 50 miles from the site of the December shooting in Newtown, Conn. “It’s about them, and all the families going forward so we can prevent this from happening again. That’s what it’s about.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 8, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Reducing Gun Violence at the University of Hartford, Connecticut — Pushes for Gun Control Bill

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Asks Americans to Stand Up and Call for Action to Reduce Gun Violence

Source: WH, 4-8-13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on gun violencePresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on gun violence, at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn., April 8, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today President Obama traveled to Connecticut, where he told families of the children and teachers who died at Sandy Hook Elementary that we have not forgotten our promise to help prevent future tragedies and reduce gun violence in our country….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on Reducing Gun Violence — Hartford, CT

Source: WH, 4-8-13

University of Hartford
Hartford, Connecticut

5:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Connecticut.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Well, thank you so much, everybody.  Let me begin by thanking Nicole, and Ian, for your brave words.  (Applause.)  I want to thank them and all the Newtown families who have come here today, including your First Selectman, Pat Llodra.  (Applause.)  Nobody could be more eloquent than Nicole and the other families on this issue.  And we are so grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories again and again, understanding that nothing is going to be more important in making sure the Congress moves forward this week than hearing from them.

I want to thank all the educators from Sandy Hook Elementary who have come here as well — (applause) — the survivors —

AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  We love you, Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  I do.  (Applause.)

— the survivors who still mourn and grieve, but are still going to work every day to love and raise those precious children in their care as fiercely as ever.

I want to thank Governor Malloy for his leadership.  (Applause.)  Very proud of him.  I want to thank the University of Hartford for hosting us this afternoon.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Hawks.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the people of Connecticut for everything you’ve done to honor the memories of the victims — (applause) — because you’re part of their family as well.

One of your recent alumni, Rachel D’Avino, was a behavioral therapist at Sandy Hook.  Two alumni of your performing arts school, Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene, lost their daughter, Ana — an incredible, vibrant young girl who looked up to them, and learned from them, and inherited their talents by singing before she could talk.

So every family in this state was shaken by the tragedy of that morning.  Every family in this country was shaken.  We hugged our kids more tightly.  We asked what could we do, as a society, to help prevent a tragedy like that from happening again.

And as a society, we decided that we have to change.  We must.  We must change.  (Applause.)

I noticed that Nicole and others refer to that day as “12/14.”  For these families, it was a day that changed everything.  And I know many of you in Newtown wondered if the rest of us would live up to the promise we made in those dark days — if we’d change, too; or if once the television trucks left, once the candles flickered out, once the teddy bears were carefully gathered up, that the country would somehow move on to other things.

Over the weekend, I heard Francine Wheeler, who lost her son Ben that day, say that the four months since the tragedy might feel like a brief moment for some, but for her, it feels like it’s been years since she saw Ben.  And she’s determined not to let what happened that day just fade away.  “We’re not going anywhere,” she said.  “We are here.  And we are going to be here.”  And I know that she speaks for everybody in Newtown, everybody who was impacted.

And, Newtown, we want you to know that we’re here with you.  We will not walk away from the promises we’ve made.  (Applause.)  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.  (Applause.)

We can’t forget.  Your families still grieve in ways most of us can’t comprehend.  But so many of you have used that grief to make a difference — not just to honor your own children, but to protect the lives of all of our children.  So many of you have mobilized, and organized, and petitioned your elected officials “with love and logic,” as Nicole put it — as citizens determined to right something gone wrong.

And last week, here in Connecticut, your elected leaders responded.  The Connecticut legislature, led by many of the legislators here today, passed new measures to protect more of our children and our communities from gun violence.  And Governor Malloy signed that legislation into law.  (Applause.)

So I want to be clear.  You, the families of Newtown, people across Connecticut, you helped make that happen.  Your voices, your determination made that happen.  Obviously, the elected leaders did an extraordinary job moving it forward, but it couldn’t have happened if they weren’t hearing from people in their respective districts, people all across the state.  That’s the power of your voice.

And, by the way, Connecticut is not alone.  In the past few months, New York, Colorado, Maryland have all passed new, common-sense gun safety reforms as well.  (Applause.)

These are all states that share an awful familiarity with gun violence, whether it’s the horror of mass killings, or the street crime that’s too common in too many neighborhoods.  All of these states also share a strong tradition of hunting, and sport shooting, and gun ownership.  It’s been a part of the fabric of people’s lives for generations.  And every single one of those states — including here in Connecticut — decided that, yes, we can protect more of our citizens from gun violence while still protecting our Second Amendment rights.  Those two things don’t contradict each other.  (Applause.)  We can pass common-sense laws that protect our kids and protect our rights.

So Connecticut has shown the way.  And now is the time for Congress to do the same.  (Applause.)  Now is the time for Congress to do the same.  This week is the time for Congress to do the same.  (Applause.)

Now, back in January, just a few months after the tragedy in Newtown, I announced a series of executive actions to reduce gun violence and keep our kids safe.  And I put forward common-sense proposals — much like those that passed here in Connecticut — for Congress to consider.  And you’ll remember in my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to give those proposals a vote.  And that moment is now.

As soon as this week, Congress will begin debating these common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence.  Your senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy — they’re here — (applause) — your Representatives, John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, Jim Hines, Joe Courtney, they are all pushing to pass this legislation.  (Applause.)  But much of Congress is going to only act if they hear from you, the American people.  So here’s what we have to do.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate that.  (Laughter.)  Here’s what we’ve got to do.  We have to tell Congress it’s time to require a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that people who are dangerous to themselves and others cannot get their hands on a gun.  Let’s make that happen.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to crack down on gun trafficking so that folks will think twice before buying a gun as part of a scheme to arm someone who won’t pass a background check.  Let’s get that done.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to restore the ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines, to make it harder for a gunman to fire 154 bullets into his victims in less than five minutes.  Let’s put that to a vote.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen school safety and help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment they need before it’s too late.  Let’s do that for our kids and for our communities.  (Applause.)

Now, I 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.  All of them are common sense.  All of them deserve a vote.  All of them deserve a vote.  (Applause.)

Consider background checks.  Over the past 20 years, background checks have kept more than 2 million dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun.  A group of police officers in Colorado told me last week that, thanks to background checks, they’ve been able to stop convicted murderers, folks under restraining orders for committing violent domestic abuse from buying a gun.  In some cases, they’ve actually arrested the person as they were coming to purchase the gun.

So we know that background checks can work.  But the problem is loopholes in the current law let so many people avoid background checks altogether.  That’s not safe.  It doesn’t make sense.  If you’re a law-abiding citizen and you go through a background check to buy a gun, wouldn’t you expect other people to play by the same rules?  (Applause.)

If you’re a law-abiding gun seller, wouldn’t you want to know you’re not selling your gun to someone who’s likely to commit a crime?  (Applause.)  Shouldn’t we make it harder, not easier for somebody who is convicted of domestic abuse to get his hands on a gun?  (Applause.)

It turns out 90 percent of Americans think so.  Ninety percent of Americans support universal background checks.  Think about that.  How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?  (Laughter.)  And yet, 90 percent agree on this — Republicans, Democrats, folks who own guns, folks who don’t own guns; 80 percent of Republicans, more than 80 percent of gun owners, more than 70 percent of NRA households.  It is common sense.

And yet, there is only one thing that can stand in the way of change that just about everybody agrees on, and that’s politics in Washington.  You would think that with those numbers Congress would rush to make this happen.  That’s what you would think.  (Applause.)  If our democracy is working the way it’s supposed to, and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy you’d think this would not be a heavy lift.

And yet, some folks 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.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  That is not right.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  We need a vote.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  We need a vote.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I’ve also heard some in the Washington press suggest that what happens to gun violence legislation in Congress this week will either be a political victory or defeat for me.  Connecticut, this is not about me.  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.  (Applause.)  It’s about them and all the families going forward, so we can prevent this from happening again.  That’s what it’s about.  It’s about the law enforcement officials putting their lives at risk.  That’s what this is about.  This is not about politics.  (Applause.)  This is not about politics.

This is about these families and families all across the country who are saying let’s make it a little harder for our kids to get gunned down.

When I said in my State of the Union address that these proposals deserve a vote — that families of Newtown, and Aurora, and Tucson, and a former member of Congress, Gabby Giffords, that they all deserved a vote -– virtually every member of that chamber stood up and applauded.  And now they’re going to start denying your families a vote when the cameras are off and when the lobbyists have worked what they do?  You deserve better than that.  You deserve a vote.

Now, look, we knew from the beginning of this debate that change would not be easy.  We knew that there would be powerful interests that are very good at confusing the subject, that are good at amplifying conflict and extremes, that are good at drowning out rational debate, good at ginning up irrational fears, all of which stands in the way of progress.

But if our history teaches us anything, then it’s up to us –- the people -– to stand up to those who say we can’t, or we won’t; stand up for the change that we need.  And I believe that that’s what the American people are looking for.

When I first ran for this office, I said that I did not believe the country was as divided as our politics would suggest, and I still believe that.  (Applause.)  I know sometimes, when you watch cable news or talk radio, or you browse the Internet, you’d think, man, everybody just hates each other, everybody is just at each other’s throats.  But that’s not how most Americans think about these issues.  There are good people on both sides of every issue.

So if we’re going to move forward, we can’t just talk past one another.  We’ve got to listen to one another.  That’s what Governor Malloy and all these legislative leaders did.  That’s why they were able to pass bipartisan legislation.  (Applause.)

I’ve got stacks of letters from gun owners who want me to know that they care passionately about their right to bear arms, don’t want them infringed upon, and I appreciate every one of those letters.  I’ve learned from them.  But a lot of those letters, what they’ve also said is they’re not just gun owners; they’re also parents or police officers or veterans, and they agree that we can’t stand by and keep letting these tragedies happen; that with our rights come some responsibilities and obligations to our communities and ourselves, and most of all to our children.  We can’t just think about “us” –- we’ve got to think about “we, the people.”

I was in Colorado.  I told a story about Michelle.  She came back from a trip to rural Iowa; we were out there campaigning.  Sometimes it would be miles between farms, let alone towns.  And she said, you know, coming back, I can understand why somebody would want a gun for protection.  If somebody drove up into the driveway and, Barack, you weren’t home, the sheriff lived miles away, I might want that security.  So she can understand what it might be like in terms of somebody wanting that kind of security.

On the other hand, I also talked to a hunter last week who said, all my experiences with guns have been positive, but I also realize that for others, all their experiences with guns have been negative.

And when he said that, I thought about the mom I met from suburban Chicago whose son was killed in a random shooting.  And this mom told me, I hate it when people tell me that my son was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was on his way to school.  He was exactly where he was supposed to be.  He was in the right place at the right time, and he still got shot.  (Applause.)

The kids at Sandy Hook were where they were supposed to be.  So were those moviegoers in Aurora.  So were those worshippers in Oak Creek.  So was Gabby Giffords.  She was at a supermarket, listening to the concerns of her constituents.  (Applause.)  They were exactly where they were supposed to be.  They were also exercising their rights — to assemble peaceably; to worship freely and safely.  They were exercising the rights of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  So surely, we can reconcile those two things.  Surely, America doesn’t have to be divided between rural and urban, and Democrat and Republican when it comes to something like this.

If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families here have known, then we have to act.  Now is the time to get engaged.  Now is the time to get involved.  Now is the time to push back on fear, and frustration, and misinformation.  Now is the time for everybody to make their voices heard from every state house to the corridors of Congress.

And I’m asking everyone listening today, find out where your member of Congress stands on this.  If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them, why not?  Why wouldn’t you want to make it easier for law enforcement to do their job?  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?  (Applause.)

I’ve heard Nicole talk about what her life has been like since Dylan was taken from her in December.  And one thing she said struck me.  She said, “Every night, I beg for him to come to me in my dreams so that I can see him again.  And during the day, I just focus on what I need to do to honor him and make change.”  Now, if Nicole can summon the courage to do that, how can the rest of us do any less?  (Applause.)  How can we do any less?

If there is even one thing we can do to protect our kids, don’t we have an obligation to try?  If there is even one step we can take to keep somebody from murdering dozens of innocents in the span of minutes, shouldn’t we be taking that step?  (Applause.)  If there is just one thing we can do to keep one father from having to bury his child, isn’t that worth fighting for?

I’ve got to tell you, I’ve had tough days in the presidency — I’ve said this before.  The day Newtown happened was the toughest day of my presidency.  But I’ve got to tell you, if we don’t respond to this, that will be a tough day for me, too.  (Applause.)  Because we’ve got to expect more from ourselves, and we’ve got to expect more from Congress.  We’ve got to believe that every once in a while, we set politics aside and we just do what’s right.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to believe that.

And if you believe that, I’m asking you to stand up.  (Applause.)  If you believe in the right to bears arms, like I do, but think we should prevent an irresponsible few from inflicting harm — stand up.  Stand up.  (Applause.)

If you believe that the families of Newtown and Aurora and Tucson and Virginia Tech and the thousands of Americans who have been gunned down in the last four months deserve a vote, we all have to stand up.  (Applause.)

If you want the people you send to Washington to have just an iota of the courage that the educators at Sandy Hook showed when danger arrived on their doorstep, then we’re all going to have to stand up.

And if we do, if we come together and raise our voices together and demand this change together, I’m convinced cooperation and common sense will prevail.  We will find sensible, intelligent ways to make this country stronger and safer for our children.  (Applause.)

So let’s do the right thing.  Let’s do right by our kids.  Let’s do right by these families.  Let’s get this done.  Connecticut, thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END                6:13 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines April 8, 2013: President Barack Obama Must Walk Fine Line as Congress Takes Up his Second Term Agenda

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Must Walk Fine Line as Congress Takes Up Agenda

Source: NYT, 4-8-13

President Obama in Denver last week after speaking about measures to reduce gun violence.
Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama in Denver last week after speaking about measures to reduce gun violence.

President Obama’s second-term priorities — the deficit, gun safety and immigration — may hinge on his ability to inject himself into negotiations to just the right degree….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 7, 2013: President Barack Obama Readies for Gun Control Push

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Readies for Gun Control Push

Source: ABC News, 4-7-13

With the Senate returning from a two-week recess, the Obama administration is gearing up for an all-out push this week to get lawmakers to take action on gun control….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 4, 2013: President Barack Obama at California Fundraiser: Enacting Gun Laws Is ‘Tougher’ Than Immigration Reform

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: Enacting Gun Laws Is ‘Tougher’ Than Immigration Reform

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-4-13

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages

Rounding out his two-day fundraising swing in California on Thursday, President Obama told donors that passing new gun measures will be a “tougher” process than achieving immigration reform.

“I am very optimistic that we get immigration reform done in the next few months.  And the reason I’m optimistic is because people spoke out through the ballot box, and that’s breaking gridlock,” Obama told about 30 donors gathered at a fundraiser in Atherton, Calif., Thursday. “It’s going to be tougher to get better gun legislation to reduce gun violence through the Senate and the House that so many of us I think want to see, particularly after the tragedy in Newtown.  But I still think it can get done if people are activated and involved.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 3, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Reducing Gun Violence Pushing Congress to Pass a Gun-Control Bill in Denver, Colorado

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Reducing Gun Violence

Source: WH, 4-3-13

Denver Police Academy
Denver, Colorado

3:19 P.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Thank you.  Well, it is wonderful to be back in Colorado.  It is wonderful to be back in Denver.  I want to thank Chief White for that introduction.  You’ve got some outstanding elected officials who are here today, and I want to acknowledge them.  First of all, a wonderful governor — John Hickenlooper is here.  (Applause.)  He’s here somewhere.  I know, because I just talked to him.  There he is.  Next to him an outstanding lieutenant governor, Joe Garcia.  (Applause.)  One of the finest young senators in the country — Michael Bennet is here.  (Applause.)  Terrific members of the House of Representatives — Ed Perlmutter — (applause) — and Dianna Degette.  (Applause.)  And your own mayor, Michael Hancock, is here.  (Applause.)

I want to say thank you to the Denver Police for having me here, and more importantly, for the outstanding work that all of you do each and every day to serve your communities and protect your citizens.

Before I came out here, I had a chance to sit down with some local law enforcement, Attorney General Holder, and some of the leaders I just mentioned, the wonderful mayor of Aurora who’s here, sportsmen, parents, loved ones of the victims of the shootings in Columbine and Aurora.  And we talked about what we can do to protect more of our citizens from gun violence.

And from the beginning of this effort, we’ve wanted law enforcement front and center in shaping this discussion and the reforms that emerge from it — because law enforcement lives this every day.  Law enforcement are the first to see the terrible consequences of any kind of violence, certainly gun violence — lives lost, families broken, communities that are changed forever.  They’re very often in the line of fire.  The law enforcement knows what works and what doesn’t, and so we wanted that experience and that advice.

And it was also important for us to hear from mayors like Steve Hogan, because he’s been on the front lines having to deal with these issues under incredibly sad circumstances.  And I’ve come to Denver today in particular because Colorado is proving a model of what’s possible.

It’s now been just over 100 days since the murder of 20 innocent children and six brave educators in Newtown, Connecticut — an event that shocked this country and I think galvanized parents all across the country to say, we’ve got to do something more to protect our kids.  But consider this:  Over those 100 days or so, more than 100 times as many Americans have fallen victim to gun violence.  More than 2,000 of our fellow citizens, struck down, often because they were just going about their daily round.  They weren’t doing anything special.  Just doing what folks do every day — shopping, going to school.  Every day that we wait to do something about it, even more of our fellow citizens are stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

Now, the good news is Colorado has already chosen to do something about it.  (Applause.)  Look, this is a state that has suffered the tragedy of two of the worst mass shootings in our history — 14 years ago this month in Columbine, and just last year in Aurora.  But this is also a state that treasures its Second Amendment rights — the state of proud hunters and sportsmen.  And, by the way, the Governor wanted me to remind everybody that there is outstanding elk hunting here in Colorado.  (Laughter.)  There’s a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s handed down from generation to generation, and it’s part of the fabric of people’s lives.  And they treat gun ownership with reverence and respect.

And so I’m here because I believe there doesn’t have to be a conflict in reconciling these realities.  There doesn’t have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment rights.  I’ve got stacks of letters in my office from proud gun owners, whether they’re for sport, or protection, or collection, who tell me how deeply they cherish their rights, don’t want them infringed upon, but they still want us to do something to stop the epidemic of gun violence.  And I appreciate every one of those letters.  And I’ve learned from them.

And I think that Colorado has shown that practical progress is possible thanks to the leadership of Governor Hickenlooper and some of the state legislators who are here today.  When I was talking to Steve, he mentioned that Aurora is very much a purple city.  It’s got a majority Republican city council; a majority of the state legislators are Democrat.  But they came together understanding that out of this tragedy there had to be something that made sense.  And so we’ve seen enacted tougher background checks that won’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners, but will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.  (Applause.)

Now, in January, just a few weeks after Newtown, I put forward a series of common-sense proposals along the same lines as what’s passed here in Colorado, to reduce gun violence and keep our kids safe.  In my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to give these proposals a vote.  And, by the way, before we even asked for a vote, I had already signed numerous executive orders doing what we could administratively to make sure that guns don’t fall into the hands of the wrong people.

But what I said then is still true:  If we’re really going to tackle this problem seriously, then we’ve got to get Congress to take the next step.  And as soon as next week, they will be voting.  As soon as next week, every senator will get to vote on whether or not we should require background checks for anyone who wants to purchase a gun.

Now, some say, well, we already have background checks.  And they’re right.  Over the past 20 years, those background checks have kept more than 2 million dangerous people from buying a gun.  But the loopholes that currently exist in the law have allowed way too many criminals and folks who shouldn’t be getting guns — it has allowed them to avoid background checks entirely.  That makes it harder for law enforcement to do its job.  It’s not safe.  It’s not smart.  And, by the way, it’s not fair to responsible gun owners who are playing by the rules.

Now, understand, nobody is talking about creating an entirely new system.  We are simply talking about plugging holes, sealing a porous system that isn’t working as well as it should.  If you want to buy a gun, whether it’s from a licensed dealer or a private seller, you should at least have to pass a background check to show you’re not a criminal or someone legally prohibited from buying on.  And that’s just common sense.  (Applause.)

During our roundtable discussion with Governor Hickenlooper, who I know was in the midst of this passionate debate about the legislation here in Colorado, and some people said, well, background checks aren’t going to stop everybody.  And the Governor was the first one to acknowledge, yes, they won’t stop everybody, but as he pointed out, statistically, there are a whole bunch of folks who have been stopped.

As a consequence of background checks, law enforcement has been able to stop people who have been convicted of murder from getting a gun, people who are under restraining orders for having committed violent domestic abuse from getting a gun.  In a couple of cases the governor mentioned to me, law enforcement has actually been able to arrest people who came to pick up their gun — (laughter) — because they were criminals, wanted.

So this does work.  And, by the way, if you’re selling a gun, wouldn’t you want to know who you’re selling it to?  Wouldn’t you want to know?  Wouldn’t you want in your conscience to know that the person you’re selling to isn’t going to commit a crime?  (Applause.)

So these enhanced background checks won’t stop all gun crimes, but they will certainly help prevent some.  This is common sense.  And, by the way, most gun owners — more than 80 percent — agree this makes sense.  More than 70 percent of NRA members agree.  Ninety percent of the American people agree.  So there’s no reason we can’t do this unless politics is getting in the way.  There’s no reason we can’t do this.

As soon as next week, every senator will get a chance to vote on a proposal to help strengthen school safety and help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment that they need.

As soon as next week, every senator will get to vote on whether or not we should crack down on folks who buy guns as part of a scheme to arm criminals.  That would keep more guns off the streets and out of the hands of people who are intent on doing harm.  And it would make life a whole lot easier and safer for the people behind me — police officers.

Every senator will get a say on whether or not we should keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate mass killings off our streets.  The type of assault rifle used in Aurora, for example, when paired with a high-capacity magazine, has one purpose:  to pump out as many bullets as possible, as fast as possible.  It’s what allowed that gunman to shoot 70 people and kill 12 in a matter of a few minutes.  I don’t believe that weapons designed for theaters of war have a place in movie theaters.  Most Americans agree with that.  (Applause.)

Most of these ideas are not controversial.  Right now, 90 percent of Americans — 90 percent — support background checks that will keep criminals and people who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others from buying a gun.  More than 80 percent of Republicans agree.  Most gun owners agree.  Think about it:  How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?  (Laughter.)

And yet, there are already some senators back in Washington floating the idea that they might use obscure procedural stunts to prevent or delay any of these votes on reform.  Think about that.  They’re not just saying they’ll vote “no” on the proposal that most Americans support.  They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to avoid even allowing a vote on a proposal that the overwhelming majority of the American people support.  They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter.

We knew from the beginning that change wouldn’t be easy.  And we knew that there would be powerful voices that would do everything they could to run out the clock, change the subject, ignore the majority of the American people.  We knew they’d try to make any progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration, or maybe people would just stop paying attention.

The only way this time will be different is if the American people demand that this time it must be different — that this time, we must do something to protect our communities and our kids.  (Applause.)  We need parents, we need teachers, we need police officers, we need pastors, we need hunters and sportsmen, Americans of every background to say, we’ve suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continue.  We’re not going to just wait for the next Newtown or the next Aurora before we act.  And I genuinely believe that’s what the overwhelming majority of Americans — I don’t care what party they belong to — that’s what they want.  They just want to see some progress.

It was interesting, during the conversation, a number of people talked about the trust issue.  Part of the reason it’s so hard to get this done is because both sides of the debate sometimes don’t listen to each other.  The people who take absolute positions on these issues, on both sides, sometimes aren’t willing to concede even an inch of ground.

And so one of the questions we talked about was, how do you build trust?  How do you rebuild some trust?  And I told the story about two conversations I had.  The first conversation was when Michelle came back from doing some campaigning out in rural Iowa.  And we were sitting at dinner, and she had been to like a big county, a lot of driving out there, a lot of farmland.  And she said, if I was living out in a farm in Iowa, I’d probably want a gun, too.  If somebody just drives up into your driveway and you’re not home — you don’t know who these people are and you don’t know how long it’s going to take for the sheriffs to respond.  I can see why you’d want some guns for protection.  That’s one conversation.

I had another conversation just a couple of months ago with a mom from Chicago — actually, Evanston, Illinois — whose son had been killed in a random shooting.  And she said, you know, I hate it when people tell me that my son was shot because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was in the right place.  He was on his way to school.  He wasn’t in the wrong place.  He was exactly where he was supposed to be.

Now, both those things are true.  And sometimes we’re so divided between rural and urban, and folks whose hunting is part of their lives and folks whose only experience with guns is street crime.  And the two sides just talk past one another.  And more than anything, what I want to just emphasize is there are good people on both sides of this thing, but we have to be able to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.  If you’re a hunter, if you’re a sportsman — if you have a gun in your house for protection — you’ve got to understand what it feels like for that mom whose son was randomly shot.

And if you live in an urban area and you’re worried about street crime, you’ve got to understand what it might be like if you grew out on a ranch and your dad had been taking you hunting all your life.  And we had a couple of sportsmen in our conversation today, and I thought one of them said something very important.  He said, all my experiences with guns have been positive, but I realize that for others, all their experiences about guns have been negative.  Well, that’s a start, right?  If we start listening to each other, then we should be able to get something done that’s constructive.  We should be able to get that done.  (Applause.)

One last thing I’m going to mention is that during this conversation — I hope you don’t mind me quoting you, Joe.  Joe Garcia, I thought, also made an important point, and that is that the opponents of some of these common-sense laws have ginned up fears among responsible gun owners that have nothing to do with what’s being proposed and nothing to do with the facts, but feeds into this suspicion about government.

You hear some of these quotes:  “I need a gun to protect myself from the government.”  “We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away.”

Well, the government is us.  These officials are elected by you.  (Applause.)  They are elected by you.  I am elected by you.  I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place.  It’s a government of and by and for the people.

And so, surely, we can have a debate that’s not based on the notion somehow that your elected representatives are trying to do something to you other than potentially prevent another group of families from grieving the way the families of Aurora or Newtown or Columbine have grieved.  We’ve got to get past some of the rhetoric that gets perpetuated that breaks down trust and is so over the top that it just shuts down all discussion.  And it’s important for all of us when we hear that kind of talk to say, hold on a second.  If there are any folks who are out there right now who are gun owners, and you’ve been hearing that somehow somebody is taking away your guns, get the facts.  We’re not proposing a gun registration system, we’re proposing background checks for criminals.  (Applause.)

Don’t just listen to what some advocates or folks who have an interest in this thing are saying.  Look at the actual legislation.  That’s what happened here in Colorado.  And hopefully, if we know the facts and we’re listening to each other, then we can actually move forward.

And that’s what members of Congress need to hear from you.  Right now, members of Congress are at home in their districts.  Many of them are holding events where they can hear from their constituents.  So I’m asking anyone out there who is listening today, find out where your member of Congress stands on these issues.  If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them why not.  Why wouldn’t you want to make it more difficult for a dangerous criminal to get his or her hands on a gun?  Why wouldn’t you want to close the loophole that allows too many criminals to buy a gun without even the simplest of background checks?  Why on Earth wouldn’t you want to make it easier rather than harder for law enforcement to do their job?

I know that some of the officers here today know what it’s like to look into the eyes of a parent or a grandparent, a brother or a sister, or a spouse who has just lost a loved one to an act of violence.  Some of those families, by the way, are here today.  And as police officers, you know as well as anybody, there is no magic solution to prevent every bad thing from happening in the world.  You still suit up, you put on your badge, put yourself at risk every single day.  Every single day, you go to work and you try to do the best you can to protect the people you’re sworn to protect and serve.  Well, how can the rest of us as citizens do anything less?

If there is just one step we can take to prevent more Americans from knowing the pain that some of the families who are here have known, don’t we have an obligation to try?  Don’t we have an obligation to try?  (Applause.)  If these reforms keep one person from murdering dozens of innocent children or worshippers or moviegoers in a span of minutes, isn’t it worth fighting for?  (Applause.)  I believe it is.  That’s why I’m going to keep on working.  I’m going to keep on giving it my best efforts.  But I’m going to need your help.

This is not easy.  And I’ll be blunt — a lot of members of Congress, this is tough for them.  Because those who are opposed to any form of legislation affecting guns, they’re very well-organized and they’re very well-financed.  But it can be done if enough voices are heard.

So I want to thank all the police officers who are here for giving their best efforts every single day.  (Applause.)  I want to thank Governor Hickenlooper for his outstanding leadership.  (Applause.)  I want to thank all the families who are here for your courage in being willing to take out of this tragedy something positive.  I want to thank the people of Colorado for coming together in sensible ways.  (Applause.)  Let’s see if we can get the whole country to do so.

Thank you, Denver.  God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END                3:45 P.M. MDT

Political Headlines March 28, 2013: President Obama Renews Plea on Gun Control: ‘I Haven’t Forgotten’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Renews Plea on Gun Control: ‘I Haven’t Forgotten’

Source: NYT, 3-28-13

President Obama hugged a group of mothers who were victims of gun violence as he urged Congress to pass measures aimed at preventing it during an event in the East Room of the White House.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama hugged a group of mothers who were victims of gun violence as he urged Congress to pass measures aimed at preventing it during an event in the East Room of the White House.

Standing with shooting victims’ mothers, President Obama scolded lawmakers for not embracing proposals he put forward after the Sandy Hook massacre….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 28, 2013: President Barack Obama on Gun Violence: ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-28-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Obama on Thursday vowed that the children killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School will not be forgotten as he made a plea for Congress to take action against gun violence.

“The entire country was shocked, and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different,” the president said as he stood in the East Room of the White House with 21 mothers working to combat gun violence in America….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Gun Violence & Safety & Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence — ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: We Have Not Forgotten What Happened in Newtown

Source: WH, 3-28-13

Today, President Obama promised the American people that he had not forgotten the 20 innocent chidlren and six brave educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary more than 100 days ago. Standing with parents and teachers of gun violence victims, he urged Congress to take action that will protect other children and families from the pain and grief these families have experienced….READ MORE

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks on gun safetyPresident Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks on gun safety in the East Room of the White House, March 28, 2013. Mothers who have lost children to gun violence join them on stage. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by the President on Gun Safety

President Obama Speaks on Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence

President Obama Speaks on Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence

Source: WH, 3-28-13 

East Room

11:58 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you, Katerina, for sharing your story.  Reema was lucky to have you as a teacher, and all of us are fortunate to have you here today.  And I’m glad we had a chance to remember her.

Katerina, as you just heard, lost one of her most promising students in Virginia Tech, the shootings there that took place six years ago.  And she and dozens of other moms and dads, all victims of gun violence, have come here today from across the country — united not only in grief and loss, but also in resolve, and in courage, and in a deep determination to do whatever they can, as parents and as citizens to protect other kids and spare other families from the awful pain that they have endured.

As any of the families and friends who are here today can tell you, the grief doesn’t ever go away.  That loss, that pain sticks with you.  It lingers on in places like Blacksburg and Tucson and Aurora.  That anguish is still fresh in Newtown.  It’s been barely 100 days since 20 innocent children and six brave educators were taken from us by gun violence — including Grace McDonnell and Lauren Rousseau and Jesse Lewis, whose families are here today.

That agony burns deep in the families of thousands — thousands of Americans who have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun over these last 100 days — including Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed on her way to school less than two months ago, and whose mom is also here today.  Everything they lived for and hoped for, taken away in an instant.  We have moms on this stage whose children were killed as recently as 35 days ago.

I don’t think any of us who are parents can hear their stories and not think about our own daughters and our own sons and our own grandchildren.  We all feel that it is our first impulse, as parents, to do everything we can to protect our children from harm; to make any sacrifice to keep them safe; to do what we have to do to give them a future where they can grow up and learn and explore, and become the amazing people they’re destined to be.

That’s why, in January, Joe Biden, leading a task force, came up with, and I put forward, a series of common-sense proposals to reduce the epidemic of gun violence and keep our kids safe.  In my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to give these proposals a vote.  And in just a couple of weeks, they will.

Earlier this month, the Senate advanced some of the most important reforms designed to reduce gun violence.  All of them are consistent with the Second Amendment.  None of them will infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.  What they will do is keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who put others at risk.  And this is our best chance in more than a decade to take common-sense steps that will save lives.

As I said when I visited Newtown just over three months ago, if there is a step we can take that will save just one child, just one parent, just another town from experiencing the same grief that some of the moms and dads who are here have endured, then we should be doing it.  We have an obligation to try.

Now, in the coming weeks, members of Congress will vote on whether we should require universal background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that criminals or people with severe mental illnesses can’t get their hands on one.  They’ll vote on tough new penalties for anyone who buys guns only to turn around and sell them to criminals.  They’ll vote on a measure that would keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate these mass killings off our streets.  They’ll get to vote on legislation that would help schools become safer and help people struggling with mental health problems to get the treatment that they need.

None of these ideas should be controversial.  Why wouldn’t we want to make it more difficult for a dangerous person to get his or her hand on a gun?  Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check?  Why wouldn’t we do that?

And if you ask most Americans outside of Washington — including many gun owners — some of these ideas, they don’t consider them controversial.  Right now, 90 percent of Americans — 90 percent — support background checks that will keep criminals and people who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others from buying a gun.  More than 80 percent of Republicans agree.  More than 80 percent of gun owners agree.  Think about that.  How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?  (Laughter.)  It never happens.

Many other reforms are supported by clear majorities of Americans.  And I ask every American to find out where your member of Congress stands on these ideas.  If they’re not part of that 90 percent who agree that we should make it harder for a criminal or somebody with a severe mental illness to buy a gun, then you should ask them, why not?  Why are you part of the 10 percent?

There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get this done.  But the reason we’re talking about here today is because it’s not done until it’s done.  And there are some powerful voices on the other side that are interested in running out the clock or changing the subject or drowning out the majority of the American people to prevent any of these reforms from happening at all.  They’re doing everything they can to make all our progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration, or their assumption is that people will just forget about it.

I read an article in the news just the other day wondering is Washington — has Washington missed its opportunity, because as time goes on after Newtown, somehow people start moving on and forgetting.  Let me tell you, the people here, they don’t forget.  Grace’s dad is not forgetting.  Hadiya’s mom hasn’t forgotten.  The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we’ve moved on to other things, that’s not who we are.  That’s not who we are.

And I want to make sure every American is listening today.  Less than 100 days ago that happened, and the entire country was shocked.  And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different.  Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.  I haven’t forgotten those kids.  Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.

If there’s one thing I’ve said consistently since I first ran for this office:  Nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change.  And that’s why it’s so important that all these moms and dads are here today.  But that’s also why it’s important that we’ve got grassroots groups out there that got started and are out there mobilizing and organizing and keeping up the fight.  That’s what it’s going to take to make this country safer.  It’s going to take moms and dads, and hunters and sportsmen, and clergy and local officials like the mayors who are here today standing up and saying, this time really is different — that we’re not just going to sit back and wait until the next Newtown or the next Blacksburg or the next innocent, beautiful child who is gunned down in a playground in Chicago or Philadelphia or Los Angeles before we summon the will to act.

Right now, members of Congress are back home in their districts, and many of them are holding events where they can hear from their constituents.  So I want everybody who is listening to make yourself heard right now.

If you think that checking someone’s criminal record before he can check out a gun show is common sense, you’ve got to make yourself heard.  If you’re a responsible, law-abiding gun owner who wants to keep irresponsible, law-breaking individuals from abusing the right to bear arms by inflicting harm on a massive scale, speak up.  We need your voices in this debate.  If you’re a mom like Katerina who wants to make this country safer, a stronger place for our children to learn and grow up, get together with other moms like the ones here today and raise your voices and make yourselves unmistakably heard.

We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn’t just a bunch of platitudes — that we meant it.

The desire to make a difference is what brought Corey Thornblad here today.  Corey grew up in Oklahoma, where her dad sold firearms at gun shows.  And today, she’s a mom and a teacher.  And Corey said that after Newtown, she cried for days — for the students who could have been her students; for the parents she could have known; for the teachers like her who go to work every single day and love their kids and want them to succeed.  And Corey says, “My heart was broken.  And I decided now was the time to act, to march, the time to petition, the time to make phone calls, because tears were no longer enough.”  And that’s my attitude.

Tears aren’t enough.  Expressions of sympathy aren’t enough.  Speeches aren’t enough.  We’ve cried enough.  We’ve known enough heartbreak.  What we’re proposing is not radical, it’s not taking away anybody’s gun rights.  It’s something that if we are serious, we will do.

Now is the time to turn that heartbreak into something real.  It won’t solve every problem.  There will still be gun deaths.  There will still be tragedies.  There will still be violence.  There will still be evil.  But we can make a difference if not just the activists here on this stage but the general public — including responsible gun owners — say, you know what, we can do better than this.  We can do better to make sure that fewer parents have to endure the pain of losing a child to an act of violence.

That’s what this is about.  And if enough people like Katerina and Corey and the rest of the parents who are here today get involved, and if enough members of Congress take a stand for cooperation and common sense, and lead, and don’t get squishy because time has passed and maybe it’s not on the news every single day — if that’s who we are, if that’s our character that we’re willing to follow through on commitments that we say are important — commitments to each other and to our kids — then I’m confident we can make this country a safer place for all of them.

So thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
12:13 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines March 15, 2013: NRA President Wayne LaPierre Tells VP Joe Biden, ‘Keep Your Advice, We’ll Keep Our Guns’ at at CPAC 2013 the 40th Conservative Political Action Conference

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

NRA President Tells Biden, ‘Keep Your Advice, We’ll Keep Our Guns’

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-15-13

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Friday is the second day of the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference — an annual gathering in Washington, D.C., where members of the GOP meet to cement their ideology and try out potential presidential nominees for the coming years.

In his speech at CPAC, the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre mocked Vice President Joe Biden for his advice that women should fire a shotgun two times in the air if they are faced by an attacker and accused the vice president and the White House of having “lost their minds.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines March 7, 2013: Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Gun Trafficking Bill With a Vote of 11 to 7

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate Committee Passes Gun Trafficking Bill

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-7-13

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the first piece of gun legislation out of committee Thursday morning when it voted in favor of a gun trafficking bill with a vote of 11 to 7.

The bill, which is sponsored by committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would make “straw” purchasing, which occurs when a buyer buys a gun on behalf of someone who cannot legally purchase one, illegal….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 21, 2013: VP Joe Biden Speech on Gun Violence in Connecticut ‘Moral Price to Be Paid for Inaction’ on Guns

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Biden: ‘Moral Price to Be Paid for Inaction’ on Guns

Source: ABC News Radio,  2-21-13

Speaking just over 10 miles away from Sandy Hook Elementary on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden warned Congress that there is a “moral price” that will be paid if action is not taken to prevent gun violence.

“I say to my colleagues who will watch this and listen to this, I say to you, if you’re concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children, and guess what? I believe the price to be paid politically will go to those who refuse to act, who refuse to step forward because America’s changed on this issue.  You should all know the American people are with us,” Biden said at a conference on gun violence at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. “There’s a moral price to be paid for inaction.”…READ MORE

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