- The president speaks, with Gabrielle Giffords and Sandy Hook families behind him.
President Obama just finished speaking about the death of gun-control measures in the Senate today, and he is furious. You know how sometimes he's measured and reasonable—almost too measured and reasonable—and then sometimes he shoots lasers out of his eyes? This was laser-eyes Obama, and it was refreshing.
First, Mark Barden, the father of 7-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Daniel, spoke: "What happened in Newtown can happen anywhere. In any instant, any dad in America could be in my shoes." He detailed the work of Sandy Hook parents who came to DC weeks ago to hammer out gun legislation with senators—legislation they watched fail today. "We'll return home now," he continued, "disappointed but not defeated... We don't have the luxury of turning back." (Any senators who helped block gun control and watched him say that without feeling enormous pangs of guilt and shame should go take the sociopath test and see if they have a problem.)
Then it was Obama's turn, and he ripped into the Senate and the gun lobby, repeating many times that 90 percent of Americans support background checks—in fact, he pointed out, "most Americans think that's already the law"—and talking of Sandy Hook parents and other gun-control advocates who have been imploring the Senate to act. "Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders, not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children," he said. "A few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn't worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even as these families looked on from the Senate gallery." (Or as they shouted "Shame on you!" from the gallery, as the case may be.)
He said gun-control opponents "willfully lied about the bill," that senators "caved to the pressure," that the legislation met the test of saving lives while not infringing on second amendment rights but "too many senators failed theirs," and then he called on the American people to lobby their elected officials themselves, to compete with the NRA. "They're better organized, they're better financed, they've been at it longer," he said of the gun lobby, "and they make sure to stay focused on this one issue during election time... To change Washington, you the American people are gonna have to sustain some passion about this."
"All in all," he said, "this was a pretty shameful day for Washington."
Full text of Obama's speech will hopefully show up here soon.