President Barack Obama rejected pessimism in the Capitol over his gun control agenda Thursday, telling Congress “don’t get squishy” and vowing not to forget the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“Shame on us if we’ve forgotten. I haven’t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten!” an emotional Obama said. He spoke from the White House standing in front of mothers backing gun control, some of whom he said had lost children as recently as 35 days ago.
“We have cried enough. We have known enough heartbreak. ... Now is the time to turn that heartbreak into something real,” Obama said.
His message to Congress — and to those questioning whether the moment has already passed for gun control — was that it’s not too late.
“Don’t get squishy because time has passed and maybe it’s not on the news every single day,” Obama said of Congress. The Newtown incident, in which a gunman killed of 20 elementary school children and six adults, occurred on Dec. 14, 2012.
Obama said his proposals, including universal background checks, gun trafficking laws, an assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines and clips, should not be controversial. He noted support across the country for background checks in particular.
“How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?” Obama asked.
People should ask lawmakers who oppose background checks, “Why are you part of the 10 percent?” Obama said, as he challenged voters to find out where their members of Congress stand on the issue.
Obama’s comments came one day after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told reporters at the University of Kentucky that he doubted any gun restrictions would pass the Senate at all. Paul noted that a supermajority of 60 votes would be required to overcome an anticipated filibuster on the final package.
“The thing is that they know they can’t pass anything, mainly because of their own side,” Paul said. “They’ve got four or five Democrats who aren’t going to vote for gun control either. So, really they’re not going to be able to pass gun control.
“We want them to know that there’s going to be significant opposition to them, and that’ll probably mean that they’ll have to have a 60-vote margin to try to pass any legislation,” Paul said in a video posted by the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.