President Obama: 'We Will Not Walk Away From the Promises We've Made'

The president remarks on gun legislation in Newtown, Connecticut.
3:00 | 04/08/13

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Transcript for President Obama: 'We Will Not Walk Away From the Promises We've Made'
Well thank you so much everybody. Michael let me begin by thanking the call. -- -- you're brave words. I want to thank. Graham and all of the Newtown families. Who come here today. Including your person like -- pat -- growth. Nobody. And nobody could be world. The -- in the other families. On this issue and we are so grateful for their courage. And willingness to share their stories again and again. Understanding that. Nothing's going to be more important. And making sure the congress. Moves forward this week been hearing from them I want to -- All the educators from sandy hook elementary -- come here as well. The survivors. I love you back. -- still. Mormon and greed but -- are still want to work every day. To love and raise those precious children in their care as fiercely as ever. -- bank governor Malloy. You won't. University of harper. -- I think the people of Connecticut. For everything you. Well. One of your recent alumni. Rachel the -- Was a behavioral therapist at sandy hook. To alumni of your performing arts school Jimmie green and album -- green lost their daughter on top. An incredible vibrant young girl who looked up to them learn from them near to their talents by singing before she could talk. So every family in the state was shaken. By the -- do that morning. Every family in this country was shaken we hug our kids more tightly we asked. What could we do as a society to help prevent a tragedy. Like that from happening again. And as a society we decided that we have to change. We must. We must check. I noticed that Nicole and others refer to that day -- 1214. For these families it was a day that changed ever. I know many -- -- new town wondered if the rest of us would live up. To the promise we made. In those dark days. If we changed to or -- once the television trucks left once the candles flickered out -- to Teddy bears were gathered up together. Better the country would somehow move on other thanks. Over the weekend I heard Francine Wheeler who lost her son -- that day. Say that the four months since the tragedy might feel like a brief moment for some but for -- feels like it's been years since she -- -- And she's deterrent. Not to -- what happened that -- just fade away. We're not going anywhere she said we are here. We are going to be here. I know that she speaks -- everybody. In -- everybody who -- impact. And new town we want you to know that -- here with -- -- we will not walk away from the promises he made. -- -- Asking -- help me so that we can get it done. We're not -- We can't forget. Your family still -- in ways most of us can't conference. But so many -- you have used that -- to make a difference. Not just honor your own children but. To protect the lives of all of our children. So many -- you mobilize and organize and petition your elected officials. With love and logic. As Nicole put it. As citizens determined to write something gone wrong. And last week here in Connecticut your elected leaders respond the Connecticut legislature led by many of the legislators here today. The measure to protect more of our children. Ought to be cleared you the families of new ten. People across Connecticut you helped to make that happen. Your voices your determination it made that happen. Obviously the elected leaders -- an extraordinary job. Moving it forward but it couldn't have happened if they weren't hearing from. People in their respective districts. People all across the -- That's the power of your warts. And by the way Connecticut is not alone in the past few months New York Colorado. Maryland have all have. -- -- These are all states which share an awful familiarity -- gun violence whether it's the -- of mass killings of street time. Street crime. It's too confident too many neighborhoods. All of these states also share a strong tradition of -- And sport shooting and -- ownership it's it's been a part of the fabric of people's lives for generations. And every single one of those states including here in Connecticut decided that yes. We can protect more of our citizens from gun violence. While still protecting our Second Amendment Rights. Those two things don't contradict you have. And all but let's start did the blood -- like. So Connecticut -- the way. And now is the time for congress. To do this thing. It's time for congress. This thing this week. First -- the things. Now back in January just a few months after the tragedy in -- I announced a series of executive actions to reduce gun violence in -- markets. And I put forward common sense proposals. Much like -- the pastor in Connecticut. For congress to consider. And you'll remember my State of the Union Address. I urged congress to give. Those proposals. A vote. -- moment is now. As soon as this week. Congress will begin -- -- get these common sense proposals to reduce gun violence. -- senators Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. They're here. Nor representatives. John Larson ruled that the -- Let's look -- stage Jim time. Joseph Courtney they're -- pushing to pass this legislation. But much of congress -- But only act if they hear from -- the American people. So so here is. What we have to do. I appreciate that. Yeah that's what we've got to -- We have to tell congress it's time to require a background check. For anyone who wants to buy a gun so that people who are dangerous to themselves and others cannot get their hands on the -- -- until now. It's time to crack down on gun -- But the folks will think twice before buying a gun as part of a scheme to arm someone who won't pass a background check let's get that done. We have to -- -- it's time to restore the ban on military style assault weapons. The five minute let's put -- to a vote. We have to tell congress it's time to strengthen school site. And help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment they need before it's too -- Now I know that some of these proposals inspire more debate and others. Each of them. Has the support of the majority of the American people. All of them are common sense. All of them deserve a vote. It could consider background checks. Over the past twenty years. Background checks have kept more than two million dangerous people from getting their hands on ago. A group of police officers in Colorado told me last week it thanks to background checks they've been able to stop convicted murderers. Folks under restraining orders for committing violent domestic abuse. From buying a -- In some cases they've actually. Arrested first as they were common to purchase the -- So we know that background checks can work but the problem is loopholes in the current law. -- so many people avoid background checks all together. It's not safe. It doesn't make sense. If you're a law abiding citizen and you go through a background check to -- -- god. Wouldn't you expect other people to play by the same rules. If -- old law abiding gun seller. Would you want to know you're not selling your gun to someone who's likely to commit a crime. We make it harder not easier for somebody who's convicted -- domestic abuse. To get his hands on -- -- It turns -- 80% of Americans think so. 90%. Of Americans support universal background checks. Think about that how often do in 90% of Americans agree on anything. And yet 90% agreeing. On this Republicans Democrats. Folks long guns folks who don't own -- 80% of Republicans. More than 80% of gun owners more than 70%. Of -- households. It is common sense and yet. There's only one thing that can stand in the way it changed just about everybody agrees on and that's politics -- Washington. -- you would think that would both numbers were. Congress would rush to make a cent. That's what you would think. If if if if democracy is working the way its -- And 90% of the American people agree on some. In the wake of a tragedy. You think. This would not be a heavy -- And yet some folks back in Washington. Our -- -- in the idea that they may use. Political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that. They're not -- single vote no on ideas that almost all Americans support. They're saying Bill -- mimic and even prevent any boats. On these provisions. Saying -- it doesn't matter. And that's not right. That is not right. We need about. -- also heard. Some of the Washington press suggests that what happens to gun violence legislation in congress this week. We all either create political victory or defeat for me. Connecticut this is not about me. This is not about politics. This -- the. That's about. But the law enforcement official -- a lot of the roads. That's what the from the back. And not about money. At about twelve. -- about these families. And families all across the -- We're saying let's make -- a little harder. Our kids to get -- that. I said my State of the Union Address that these proposals deserve a vote. The family's new town of Aurora and Tucson and a former member of congress Gabby Giffords that they all deserve a vote. Virtually every member of that chamber stood up -- a plot. And now they're gonna start. Denying. Your family's. A -- when the cameras are often when lobbyists who. Work what they do. You deserve better than that. You deserve a vote. Now but we knew from the beginning of this debate the change -- Bobby's. We knew that there would be powerful interests. That -- very -- it confusing subject. -- good -- amplifying complected extremes. There are good -- drowning out rational debate. Good and giving up irrational fears. All of which stands in the way of progress but. -- our history teaches us anything. It's up ducks. The people. To stand up to those who say we can't or we won't. Stand up for the change that we need. I've only that. That's what the American people -- looking -- you know when I first ran for this office I said. I did not believe the country was divided our politics would suggest and I still believe that. I know sometimes when you watch. Sometimes when you watch cable news. Or talk radio or you browse the Internet you think man ever -- just take each other. -- -- just each other's throats but that's not that's not. -- most Americans think about these issues. There are good people on both sides average. So if we're gonna move forward we can't just talk past one another we've got to listen to one another that's what governor Malloy and all these legislative. Leaders that that's why they were able to pass bipartisan legislation. I've got out. -- got stacks of letters. From gun owners. Who want me know that they care passionately about the right to bear arms don't want him and -- to bomb. And I appreciate everyone of those letters I've learned from. A lot of those look what they've also -- it is. I just got -- are also parents or police officers are veterans. And they agree that we can't stand by and keep letting these tragedies happen. -- with our rights come some responsibilities and obligations to our communities and ourselves. Most of all -- our children we can't just think about us we've got to think about we the people. You know. -- thousand Colorado I told the story about Michelle. She came back from a trip to rural Iowa. We're out there campaigning. Sometimes he'd be miles between farms what little towns and she said you know coming back I don't understand why somebody want a gun for protection. -- I drove up into the driveway and -- you -- at all sure what miles away might want that secured. So she could understand and what might be like in terms of somebody wanting that kind of security. On the other hand I also talk to -- -- last week who said all my experiences -- guns have been positive. But I also realize that for others all their experience of guns have been negative. And when he said that I thought about the -- I've met from suburban -- was killed in a random shooting. And this this mom told me I hate it when people tell me -- my someone in the wrong place at wrong time. He was on his way to school. He was exactly where response debate. He -- in the right place of the right time and he still got shot. -- -- -- -- war where there are supposed to be. So -- the movie -- and or. So -- those worshippers and hopefully. So look at the difference he would go to supermarket. Listening to the concerns. Up her constituents. They were exactly where there are supposed to be. They were also exercising their rights. To assemble peaceably. To worship freely and safely. They're exercising the rights of life and liberty. The pursuit of happiness. So surely we can reconcile those two. -- Surely. America. The -- be divided between rural and urban and Democrat. Republican when it comes to something like this. If you're -- American wants to do something to prevent more families. From knowing the immeasurable anguish. That these families here -- no. That we have to act. Now's the time to get engaged. Get involved now's the time push back on fear and frustration and misinformation. Now it's time for everybody to make their voices heard. From every state house to the -- doors of -- And I'm asking everyone listening today. Find out where your member of congress stands on this. If there are not part of the 90% of Americans who agree on background checks. And ask them why not. Why wouldn't you want to make it easier for law enforcement to do their job. Why wouldn't you want to make it harder for dangerous person. To get his or her hands on ago. What's more important to you. Our children. Or eight -- from the guidelines. You know I've heard. I've heard -- -- talk about what her life has been like. Since Dolan was taken from -- And one thing she said struck -- She -- every night. -- -- for him to come to me in my dreams. Likens him. And during the day I just focus on what I need to do to honor him. And make change. If Nicole can summon the -- to do how in the rest of -- do anyone's. And that -- one thing we could do to protect our kids don't we have an obligation to fly. But once that we can take to keep somebody from murdering -- -- the innocence in the span. Adam minutes should we be taking that -- If there's just one thing we can do to keep one father from having -- -- his child. Isn't that worth. Fighting for. I've got to tell you the I've had tough days the president suggests -- this before. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- The toughest day of my presence. But I gotta tell yeah. If we don't respond to this. That'll be a tough day for me to. Because because. We've we've we've got to expect more from ourselves. We've got to expect more from congress. We've got to believe that it -- Every once in awhile. We set politics aside. We just do what's right. -- -- -- -- I'm asking you to stand up. If you. No right to bear arms like -- but they can. Tank and a thousand. Could have been gunned down the law hormones could -- a -- will let -- stand up. You want the people in the -- watching to -- Nothing although the cards but yet the candidates then he -- -- When -- -- ride on the doors. Well. To stand up. And if we do -- we come together and raise our voices together demand this change together. I'm convinced cooperation and common sense will prevail we won't find sensible intelligent waves to make the. This country stronger and safer for our children -- lets you. It then let's do. -- by our kids but from --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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