Duncan echoed the president’s message Monday, saying it is time for Congress to act to reduce gun violence across the country.
President Barack Obama put pressure on Congress Monday to quickly pass legislation ensuring universal background checks for all gun purchases, while also demanding votes be held on bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Obama’s emphasis on background checks seems to reflect the reality that the assault weapons ban doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, while support for universal background checks enjoys extremely high support in public opinion polls.
“The vast majority of Americans, including a majority of gun owners, support requiring criminal background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun,” Obama said in Minneapolis, standing in front of law enforcement officials.
He appeared to take a veiled shot at the National Rifle Association, which has reversed its support for ending background-check loopholes despite polls showing that gun owners broadly support such a law.
“If we’ve got lobbyists in Washington claiming to speak for gun owners, saying something different, we need to go to the source and reach out to people directly,” the president said. “We can’t allow those filters to get in the way of common sense.”
Obama said that ultimately what happens depends on Americans demanding action from Congress.
“Tell them now is the time for action, that we’re not going to wait until the next Newtown or the next Aurora, we’re not going to wait until after we lose more innocent Americans on street corners all across the country, not going to wait until somebody else’s father or son are murdered,” he said, growing more emotional as he spoke.
Obama also said there should be a federal law against people buying guns legally and then selling them to criminals. He noted that both Democrats and Republicans are working on legislation that would outlaw such trafficking.
He didn’t drop his support for an assault weapons ban or a ban on magazines holding more than 10 bullets, but he seemed less sure of passage.
“That deserves a vote in Congress, because weapons of war have no place on our streets or in our schools or threatening our law enforcement officers,” he said. He noted that the Tucson, Ariz., shooter was able to fire 33 rounds in 15 seconds because he had that many bullets in his clip. Obama argued that some of the six people killed there may have survived if such a clip had been banned.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.