Obama: Tell Congress You’re Disappointed Over Background Check Vote

At a press conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama described the Senate vote that defeated a bipartisan compromise to establish expanded background checks on gun sales as “round one” in the fight. Obama vowed the White House would keep pushing to address this issue and also urged Americans to push politicians and lobbyists to end their opposition to “common-sense gun legislation.” 

“This was a pretty shameful day for Washington. This effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes to reduce gun violence as long as the American people don’t give up on it,” said Obama. “Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities. We’ll address the barriers that prevent the states from participating in the existing background check system. We’re going to going to give law enforcement more for their jobs, put in place emergency plans to protect our children in their schools. But we can do more if congress gets its act together.”

Obama said Americans can force Congress to support expanded background checks by making their voices heard and, if need be, voting out their current representatives.  

“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 if they don’t act this time, you will remember come election time,” Obama said. “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 vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe.”

If supporters of background checks keep up the pressure, Obama said he believes they will eventually emerge victorious in spite of the power of the gun lobby.

“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,” said Obama. “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.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com
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