Flanked by a group of mothers who support gun control at the White House Thursday, President Obama issued a stern warning to members of Congress that he’ll continue pressuring them to enact legislation to curb gun violence.
“Don’t get squishy because time has passed and maybe it’s not on the news every single day,” Obama said, calling on them to “follow through on commitments” made at the time.
“We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn’t just a bunch of platitudes,” he said, referring to the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting that galvanized gun control efforts. “That we meant it.”
Obama talked up his proposals coming up in the Senate after Easter. He focused on mandatory background checks for gun purchases, observing that the policy is supported by 90 percent of Americans, including more than 80 percent of Republicans and gun owners.
“When do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?” he asked, declaring that none of his proposals would violate the Second Amendment or harm responsible gun owners.
The president called on all Americans who support beefing up gun laws to call their representatives and pressure them to sign on. “This is our best chance in more than a decade to take common sense steps that will save lives,” he said. “I want everybody who’s listening to make yourself heard right now.”
“Tears aren’t enough. Expressions of sympathy aren’t enough. Speeches aren’t enough. We’ve cried enough. We’ve known enough heartbreak,” he said, flanked by a group of mothers who support gun control. “Now’s the time to turn that heartbreak into something real.”
Obama’s speech provoked an immediate response from right-wing detractors of gun control. In a statement moments after it ended, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) attacked Obama’s proposals and called his speech “deeply unfortunate.” His spokesman Brian Phillips tweeted that Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and James Inhofe (R-OK) have joined Lee and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in pledging to filibuster new gun legislation.