WASHINGTON (TIP): President Barack Obama on February 12 called for Congress to vote on a variety of gun control proposals that are currently up for debate, and heoffered a heartfelt, but not sharply political, endorsement for the proposals. Towards the end of his State of the Union address, as the speech reached a crescendo, the president turned to the topic of gun violence: “What I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource — our children.” “This is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence,” Obama said.
But two months after the shooting of20 children and six adults at anelementary school in Newtown, Conn.,he said, “This time is different.””Overwhelming majorities ofAmericans -– Americans who believe inthe 2nd Amendment — have cometogether around common-sense reform,like background checks that will makeit harder for criminals to get theirhands on a gun,” Obama continued.
“Senators of both parties are workingtogether on tough new laws to preventanyone from buying guns for resale tocriminals. Police chiefs are asking ourhelp to get weapons of war and massiveammunition magazines off our streets,because they are tired of being outgunned.
“Universal background checks, andthe tougher penalties for “strawpurchases” of guns, are some of themost popular gun-control proposalsamong voters, and both may eventuallywin bipartisan support. But a ban onmilitary-style weapons faces an uphillbattle in Congress, where Sen. DianneFeinstein (D-Calif.) has championed arenewal of the 1994 Assault WeaponsBan, which expired in 2004.The measures face opposition largelyfrom Republicans, but in an unexpectedmove, Obama did not single out any ofthe biggest obstacles to the bills, whichinclude the powerful National RifleAssociation. Instead, he asked onlythey be put to a vote.”Each of these proposals deserves avote in Congress,” he said.
“If you wantto vote no, that’s your choice. But theseproposals deserve a vote. Because in thetwo months since Newtown, more thana thousand birthdays, graduations andanniversaries have been stolen fromour lives by a bullet from a gun.”The president’s take is similar to thatof Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.), who enjoys a positive ratingfrom the NRA. Reid has so far beennoncommittal on specific gun-controlproposals, but said in a recentinterview that lawmakers should voteon each of them.To drive home his point on the needfor action on gun control, Obamainvoked a string of mass shootings thathave occurred during hisadministration. The State of the Unionaudience included dozens of peoplewhose lives had been affected by gunviolence, invited as guests ofcongressional Democrats and the WhiteHouse.Obama received one of the biggeststanding ovations of the night as hesaluted the parents of HadiyaPendleton, a young woman killed bygun violence, and demanded thatCongress vote on gun-control measures.”One of those we lost was a younggirl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons andlip gloss. She was a majorette.
She wasso good to her friends, they all thoughtthey were her best friend. Just threeweeks ago, she was here, inWashington, with her classmates,performing for her country at myinauguration. And a week later, she wasshot and killed in a Chicago park afterschool, just a mile away from myhouse,” he said.”Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, arein this chamber tonight, along withmore than two dozen Americans whoselives have been torn apart by gunviolence. They deserve a vote,” he said.”[Former Rep.] Gabby Giffords deservesa vote. The families of Newtowndeserve a vote. The families of Auroradeserve a vote. The families of OakCreek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg,and the countless other communitiesripped open by gun violence — theydeserve a simple vote.
“As he prepared to finish the speech,the president acknowledged — and somemight say disarmed — the argumentfavored by many who oppose guncontrol laws that no law can eliminateall gun violence.”Our actions will not prevent everysenseless act of violence in thiscountry. Indeed, no laws, no initiatives,no administrative acts will perfectlysolve all the challenges I’ve outlinedtonight,” Obama said. “But we werenever sent here to be perfect. We weresent here to make what difference wecan, to secure this nation, expandopportunity, and uphold our idealsthrough the hard, often frustrating, butabsolutely necessary work of selfgovernment.”Two official responses are expectedafter Obama’s speech, one fromRepublican Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.),and another from Tea Party favoriteSen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). As two of themost conservative members of theSenate, both Paul and Rubio arestaunchly opposed to gun control.