President Obama insisted Monday that his push for gun control legislation is about preventing future tragedies, not securing a political victory.
“Some in the press suggest that what happens to gun violence legislation in Congress this week will be a political victory or defeat for me,” Obama said, according to excerpts of an address he is to make in Hartford, Conn.
Speaking just an hour from the site of the elementary school shooting that left 20 schoolchildren and six educators dead, Obama said the country could not “walk away from the promises we've made.”
“If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families know, now is the time to act,” Obama said. “Now is the time to get engaged, to get involved, to push back on fear, frustration, and misinformation. Now is the time to make your voice heard from every state house to the corridors of Congress.”
The president was introduced by Nicole Hockley, a Newtown woman whose son, Dylan, was a first-grader slain in the attack.
"Do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy," Hockley urged as some in the crowd fought back tears.
Obama cast Republicans who have threatened to filibuster the gun control package — which would expand background checks on arms purchases but does not include an assault weapons ban or limits on magazine clips — as telling those who supported the measure their “opinion doesn't matter.”
“When I said in my State of the Union Address that these proposals deserve a vote – that the families of Newtown, and Aurora, and Tucson, and their former colleague in that chamber, Gabby Giffords, all deserve a vote – virtually every member in that chamber stood up and applauded,” Obama said. “Now they’re going to deny those families – your families – a vote when the cameras are off and they think no one’s looking? You deserve better. You deserve a vote.”
The president met with victims' families before he spoke Monday afternoon, and is planning to travel back to Washington with 11 family members who lost relatives in the Newtown shooting.