Obama campaign arm encouraging Newtown anniversary events

The political advocacy group born from President Obama's reelection campaign is encouraging supporters to host "anniversary events" marking one year since the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting.

Organizing for Action (OFA) says it intends the events to be a "powerful reminder of what we lost a year ago, and a reminder that we as a nation need to do more to prevent gun violence and keep our communities safe."

OFA says that the events will be held in towns and cities across the country and will be used to "call on Congress to finally take action to make our communities safer."

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Following the mass shooting that left 20 schoolchildren and six school employees dead, Obama called for legislation that would expand background checks on firearm purchases, create new penalties on straw purchases and include new funding for school security.

Obama repeatedly invoked the victims in his call for the reforms, telling lawmakers "shame on us" if they had forgotten the children who perished.

“Tears aren't enough. Expressions of sympathy aren't enough. Speeches aren't enough,” Obama said. “We've cried enough. We've known enough heartbreak. What we're proposing isn't radical. It isn't taking anybody's gun rights. It's something that, if we are serious, we will do.”

The Senate ultimately voted down a bipartisan amendment with the background check expansion 54-46.

Some Republicans accused the president and his allies of exploiting the victims of the tragedy to build support for the bill.

"What I don't think is constructive is what the president is doing right now, which is within minutes of that horrible tragedy in Newtown, the president began trying to exploit that tragedy to push a gun control agenda that is designed to appeal to partisans," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told NBC News.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said it was "deeply unfortunate" Obama "continues to use the tragedy at Newtown as a backdrop for pushing legislation that would have done nothing to prevent that horrible crime.”

OFA held a similar round of events at the six-month anniversary of the shooting. According to the group, more than 1,000 people attended nearly 80 vigils and remembrance events across the country.