WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama delivered a forceful and emotional plea to lawmakers Thursday to pass his gun-control legislation, saying "shame on us if we've forgotten" the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
The president, frustrated by the slow pace of progress on Capitol Hill, said universal background checks for gun buyers and other measures are hardly radical and would save lives. Speaking in the East Room of the White House and flanked by mothers of shooting victims, Obama repeatedly invoked last December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Less than 100 days ago that happened," Obama said. "And the entire country was shocked and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and this time would be different. Shame on us if we've forgotten. I haven't forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we've forgotten."
Obama is trying to pressure wavering lawmakers in advance of an expected Senate vote next month on his gun-control legislation. He urged Americans to "raise your voices and make yourselves unmistakably heard" so lawmakers "don't get squishy."
"We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn't just a bunch of platitudes, that we meant it," Obama said.
Obama's remarks came on a "National Day to Demand Action" in which gun-control advocacy groups were holding more than 140 public events in 29 states designed to pressure wavering lawmakers into voting for universal background checks.
Obama ticked through the specific proposals under consideration in the Senate — universal background checks, a federal gun-trafficking law, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — and portrayed the agenda as moderate and non-controversial.
"All of them are consistent with the Second Amendment," Obama said. "None of them will infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners. What they will do is keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who put others at risk. This is our best chance in more than a decade to take common-sense steps that will save lives."