With the Senate set to consider a comprehensive gun package next month, President Obama urged Congress to seriously consider all of the gun measures which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, including the contentious assault weapons ban.
“These ideas shouldn’t be controversial – they’re common sense. They’re supported by a majority of the American people. And I urge the Senate and the House to give each of them a vote,” the president said in his weekly address.
“Right now, we have a real chance to reduce gun violence in America, and prevent the very worst violence. We have a unique opportunity to reaffirm our tradition of responsible gun ownership, and also do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or people with a severe mental illness,” he said. “We’ve made progress over the last three months, but we’re not there yet. And in the weeks ahead, I hope members of Congress will join me in finishing the job – for our communities and, most importantly, for our kids.”
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved the Senate Democrats’ gun control legislation to the calendar, which sets up its consideration when the Senate returns from recess next month. The bill includes a gun trafficking proposal and the controversial universal background check, a portion which Republicans and moderate Democrats have voiced concerns about.
But stripped completely from the bill is the assault weapons ban. Instead, it will be considered as an amendment to the bill.
In a news conference in New York City on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden urged those who are skeptics about the assault weapons ban to “Think about Newtown” when weighing the need for the legislation.
After issuing his proposals for gun reform in January, President Obama remained relatively silent on guns while lawmakers have hammered away at the details of the proposals as he has dealt with a budget battle. The vice president has served as the administration’s main mouthpiece on the topic of guns in recent months.
As the country still grapples with how to prevent tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School three months ago, the president extended his condolences to the families of the 20 children and 6 educators who lost their lives in the massacre last December.
“For the families who lost a loved one on that terrible day, three months doesn’t even begin to ease the pain they’re feeling right now. It doesn’t come close to mending the wounds that may never fully heal,” he said.