Connecticut: Even as prospects of the US Congress approving the gun control legislation look dubious, President Barack Obama on Monday slammed Republican for trying to stall gun reforms.
A tearful Obama made an emotional and fervent plea to facilitate passage of gun control measures to curb gun violence that resulted in Newtown school massacre.
20 kids and six adults were massacred in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on Dec 14 last year.
After the incident, calls for a stricter gun law grew loud with Barack Obama vowing to bring a stronger legislation in place but Obama`s proposals have run into resistance on Capitol Hill as Republicans are trying to stall the Senate debate on gun control legislation.
"Nothing`s going to be more important in making sure that the Congress moves forward this week than hearing from them," Obama said.
Obama was speaking to a supportive crowd at Hartford Connecticut, just 50 miles away from Newtown where the massacre took place.
Tears welled up in Obama`s eyes when he described Nicole Hockley, who lost her 6-year-old son, Dylan, saying how she asks him every night to come to her in her dreams so she can see him again.
"If there`s even one thing we can do to prevent a father from having to bury his child, isn`t that worth fighting for?" Obama asked.
"The day Newtown happened was the toughest day of my presidency," Obama said in an emotional speech from Connecticut`s capital, an hour`s drive from Newtown. "But I`ve got to tell you, if we don`t respond to this, that`ll be a tough day for me too."
"For these families, it was a day that changed everything," said Obama, noting that victims` families refer to the December 14 killings as "12-14" in the same way those bereaved on September 11, 2001 refer to "9-11."
"I know many of you in Newtown wondered if the rest of us would live up to the promises we made in those dark days -- if we`d change, or if, once the television trucks left, once the candles flickered out, once the teddy bears were gathered up -- your country would move on to other things."
Obama`s speech was interrupted repeatedly by standing ovations from the packed gymnasium. At one point, the room erupted with chants of "We want a vote!" Audience members, many wearing green ribbons in support of the victims, were stomping their feet on the bleachers and clapping their hands in unison with the chant.
"This is not about me. This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here who have been torn apart by gun violence," Obama said, his voice rising with emotion as he shook his finger in the air.
The president pledged to use all the power of his office to enact measures to stem violence after December`s killings.
Obama argued that lawmakers have an obligation to the children killed and other victims of gun violence to allow an up-or-down vote in the Senate. That would require 50 votes to pass, rather than a procedural maneuver some Republican senators are threatening to require 60 votes, potentially sinking the legislation.
"Some back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that. They`re not just saying they`ll vote no on ideas that almost all Americans support. They`re saying they`ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They`re saying your opinion doesn`t matter. And that`s not right.
Obama rode to the speech with Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who signed sweeping gun control legislation into law Thursday with the Sandy Hook families standing behind him. But legislation in Washington faces a tougher challenge, as the nation`s memories of the shooting fade with time and the National Rifle Association wages a formidable campaign against Obama`s proposals.
Majority Leader Harry Reid brought gun control legislation to the Senate floor on Monday, though actual debate did not begin. He took the step after receiving a letter from 13 conservative Republican senators including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, saying they would use delaying tactics to try preventing lawmakers from beginning to consider the measure. Such a move takes 60 votes to overcome, a difficult hurdle in the 100-member chamber.
The conservatives said the Democratic measure would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms, citing "history`s lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history`s warning about the oppression of a government that tries."
Further underscoring the tough road ahead for the Obama-backed legislation, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that the Kentucky Republican would join the filibuster if Reid tries to bring the measure to the floor.
Obama said the vote shouldn`t be about his legacy, but about the families in Newtown who haven`t moved on to other matters.
"Newtown, we want you to know that we`re here with you," Obama said. "We will not walk away from the promises we`ve made. We are as determined as ever to do what must be done. In fact, I`m here to ask you to help me show that we can get it done. We`re not forgetting."
A group of Sandy Hook families originally planned to travel to Washington earlier on Monday, but the White House offered to give the families a ride so they could also attend Obama`s speech before their lobbying push.
So the families will get aborad Air Force One along with Obama to go to Washington to participate in lobbying for the passage of gun control measures.
With Agency Inputs