HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama was in Hartford on Monday, trying to boost the chances of gun legislation that could be in jeopardy this week in Washington.
Following the president’s address, the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims stepped off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force base, ready to rally lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
They flew with President Obama from Connecticut to Washington, where they will make their case to Congress this week.
Earlier in the day, Nicole Hockley, the mother of Sandy Hook victim Dylan Hockley, introduced Obama in Hartford.
“If you want to protect your children, you will not turn away either,” Hockley said. “Do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.”
She added, “What law-abiding citizen — whether they are a gun owner or not — doesn’t want to address this and save lives?”
“Connecticut has shown the way, and now is the time for Congress to do the same,” Obama said, speaking at the University of Hartford.
The president said “we can’t forget” the tragedy of the Newtown massacre last December that left 26 dead. Obama also applauded parents of victims, who he said “used the grief to make a difference.”
“Newtown, we want you to know that we’re here with you. We will not walk away from the promises we’ve made. We are determined as ever to do what must be done,” Obama said.
‘”We can pass common sense laws to protect our kids and protect our rights,” Obama added.
Obama made the case in Hartford the same day Congress headed back to work. The U.S. Senate was expected to debate tighter gun regulations later in the week.
“We have to tell Congress it’s time to require a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun so the people who are dangerous to themselves and others cannot get their hands on a gun,” Obama said. “Let’s make that happen.”
The president argued that lawmakers have an obligation to the children killed and other victims of gun violence to act on his proposals.
Newtown victim Daniel Barden’s father said he is pleased with the progress so far.
“The universal background check is very important. And to that point, I think Connecticut has done a wonderful job,” he said Sunday on “60 Minutes.”
The mother of Newtown massacre victim Ana Marquez-Greene touched on the complexities of the gun debate.
“At first that was where my heart was – we’ve got to get, you know, let’s have a big bonfire and burn everything. Let’s burn all these damn guns,” said Nelba Marquez-Greene. “I have since learned that it’s a more complex issue than just saying, ‘Let’s ban assault weapons.’”
Last week, the National Rifle Association released a study recommending that schools train and arm at least one staff member, which it said may help prevent deaths.
“Whatever you do, in terms of legislation, even if you had all of your universal background checks, bad guys are going to get guns and it’s not going to solve the problem of the schools,” said former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, director of the National School Shield task force.
But some lawmakers in Washington said they will not back laws that ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. University of Hartford student Craig Bentley agreed that such a ban is not a good idea.
“I don’t think there should be a limit on assault rifles,” he said. “I think when it comes down to that it’s not as much about gun control, it’s about people control.”
But Obama and the people present for the speech in Connecticut were optimistic that the tragedy that unfolded in Newtown would spur change.
“There’s still more work to be done, but for now we’re celebrating really good legislation that is the strongest package in the nation,” said Nancy Lefkowitz, co-founder of the March for Change. “I think the president is here to remind people what is possible.”
Senators have yet to reach a deal to pass expanded background checks for gun sales. An assault weapons ban doesn’t appear to have enough votes and the prospect for a ban on high-capacity magazines also appears bleak.
Not all Sandy Hook families support gun control, and even those involved with the lobbying push organized by Sandy Hook Promise are not backing the assault weapons ban. But they are asking lawmakers to expand background checks, increase penalties for gun trafficking and limit the size of magazines.
The 12 Sandy Hook victims in Washington on Monday night have organized a non-profit group called Sandy Hook Promise.
They will lobby lawmakers to back legislation they said will both save lives and respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
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