Taking aim at gun-control critics in Congress, President Obama said his push for stricter gun laws is “not about politics” but making it “a little harder for our kids to get gunned down.”
Both Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are going on the offense against a Senate Republican threat to filibuster any gun-control bill.
“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,” said Obama at the University of Hartford on Monday.
“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. … Let’s make it a little harder for our kids to get gunned down.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is joining an effort by a group of GOP senators to block gun=control legislation, which Obama criticized.
“If our democracy’s 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,” Obama said to boos from the audience.
“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.”
In a floor speech on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Senate Republicans are “afraid” to allow debate on gun-control measures, including a ban on assault weapons.
“There is no better place than the United States Senate to begin a national conversation about such critical issues — even if they are divisive issues. We should not stifle debate, run from tough issues or avoid difficult choices. This body — the world’s greatest deliberative body — has a proud tradition of such robust and constructive debate,” Reid said.
“So I am deeply troubled that a number of my Republican colleagues plan not only to oppose stricter gun violence laws, but to prevent the Senate from even voting on those measures. This flies in the face of a Senate tradition of spirited discussion that began in the first days of this institution.”
The Nevada Democrat said there is “no reason” for their “blatant obstruction” except the “fear of considering anti-violence proposals” in public view.
“Yet now many Senate Republicans seem afraid to even engage in this debate. Shame on them,” he added.
According to the majority leader’s calendar, the gun bill is expected to come up for debate on Tuesday morning.
“While nobody knows yet what Senator Reid’s plan is for the gun bill, if he chooses to file cloture on the motion to proceed to the Reid Bill (S. 649), Senator McConnell will oppose cloture on proceeding to that bill,” said Sen. McConnell spokesman John Ashbrook.
“The least Republicans owe the parents of 20 children murdered with guns at Sandy Hook Elementary is a thoughtful debate about whether stronger gun laws could have saved their little girls and boys. The least Republicans owe them is a vote,” argued Reid.
Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder are speaking about gun control during an event on Tuesday at the White House with law enforcement officials from around the nation.