President Obama called on Congress during his State of the Union address Tuesday night to give his gun violence prevention proposals floor votes. The language calling for action on gun violence was similar to that Obama has used on several occasions in the two months following the Newtown, Conn., school shooting — but it could also signal support from the president for several votes on gun violence rather than one comprehensive package.Obama framed the call for action on guns around the school shooting, as he has since days after it happened.
“It has been two months since Newtown,” Obama said in the prepared version of his speech sent to reporters. “I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different.”
Obama then led with a push for universal background checks on firearms purchases, the main goal of gun control advocates. There have been some signs of bipartisan support for expanded background checks, and the issue has emerged as the central topic of discussion since Newtown. Obama also reiterated his support for a ban on high capacity magazines and so-called assault weapons, proposals seen as less likely to pass the divided Congress.
As the gun violence debate has moved into Congress, there’s been some speculation about how gun control supporters will go about getting their proposals through both chambers. Obama may have signaled support for a piecemeal approach that splits more popular things like background checks from less politically viable options like the assault weapons ban.
“Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun,” Obama said.
The President pointed out some of the gun control advocates both he and members of Congress invited to attend the speech, including former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) and the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl shot and killed in Chicago just days after participating in Obama’s inauguration.
The President said the gun violence victims in the room demand Congress take up his gun violence proposals.
“Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote,” Obama said. “The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.”