By Amie Parnes - 04/03/13 07:30 PM EDT
President Obama on Wednesday will argue there is “no conflict” between tougher gun control measures and protecting the right to bear arms.
In a speech a few miles from the Aurora, Colo., movie theater where 12 people were killed last summer by a lone gunman, Obama will argue it is possible to reconcile gun rights with gun control.
“I’ve gotten stacks of letters from proud gun owners, whether they’re for sport, or protection, or collection, who tell me how deeply they cherish their rights, and don’t want them infringed upon — but they still want us to do something to stop the epidemic of gun violence,” Obama will say, according to the excerpts.
The event in Colorado is aimed at applying pressure on Congress to pass legislation when lawmakers return from Easter recess next week.
The Senate is expected to take up gun control legislation upon its return, but gun control advocates worry the legislation is slowly being watered down.
Bans on military-style, semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines never seemed to take off, and supporters are worried provisions to expand background checks and penalize straw purchases of guns will be weakened amid opposition from some Republicans and the National Rifle Association.
While public support is high for a proposal on universal background checks — recent polls show that as many as 88 percent support such a move — a key group of senators working on gun control legislation haven’t been able to reach an agreement on the plan.
Obama’s remarks come on the heels of a National Rifle Association study that recommended schools have armed faculty members, a move teachers groups like the American Federation of Teachers oppose.
Obama has been criticized in recent days for not acting on gun control quickly enough after the Connecticut massacre that left 20 children dead. And the White House has gone on the defensive, insisting that Obama, along with Vice President Biden, has appeared at a number of events to push legislation.
In the speech, Obama is expected to hail the new laws in Colorado, which has strengthened background checks in the state.
“I think that Colorado has shown that practical progress is possible by enacting tougher background checks that won’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners, but will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” he will say.
The president is also expected to discuss the December elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
“Consider this: over those 100 days or so, more than 100 times as many Americans have fallen victim to gun violence,” Obama is expected to say. “More than 2,000 of our fellow citizens, struck down, often just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And every day we wait to do something about it, even more are stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.
The president’s appearance will be the 12th speech or statement he has made on gun control since the shootings.
In the coming days, Obama is expected to keep his foot on the accelerator, touting his issue at a string of events. On Monday, he is set to appear in Connecticut, where he will once again push the legislation.