Pushing for gun-control legislation in Hartford, Conn., this evening, President Obama brought the energy and the rhetoric of a candidate on the stump. His audience reacted accordingly.
“If you believe in the right to bear arms like I do but think we should prevent an irresponsible few from inflicting harm, stand up, stand up,” the president urged, as the crowd, which included parents of children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, rose to its feet.
The president also used his remarks to frame the gun debate in new terms, discussing it as a choice between ensuring the safety of the nation’s children and scoring political points. “What’s more important to you, our children, or an ‘A’ grade from the gun lobby?” he asked, referring to the National Rifle Association, which has been urging lawmakers to oppose new restrictions on firearms. The president maintained that the vast majority of Americans support the White House’s efforts, and argued that the cause is not political, but is instead about families and those who say “let’s make it a little harder for our kids to get gunned down.”
Senate majority leader Harry Reid is expected to bring his bill to the floor as early as this week. Fourteen Republican senators, including minority leader Mitch McConnell, have announced their intention to filibuster the legislation.
“They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter,” Obama said of the GOP senators plotting a filibuster, “and that is not right.” The crowd chanted in response, “We want a vote! We want a vote!”