orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

April 9, 2013

Obama to bring some Sandy Hook families on AF1

Associated Press
The Orange Leader

HARTFORD, Conn. —  President Barack Obama is providing a ride on Air Force One to 11 relatives of those killed at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School so they can attend his gun control speech Monday before heading to Washington to personally plead with senators reluctant to back gun legislation.

Before a speech in Hartford, Obama plans to meet privately with relatives of seven children and one staffer killed during December's massacre. Afterward they plan to travel back to Washington on the presidential plane.

The White House says Obama is going to argue in his speech that lawmakers have an obligation to the children killed and other victims of gun violence to allow an up-or-down vote in the Senate. That would require 50 votes to pass, rather than a procedural maneuver some Republican senators are threatening to require 60 votes, potentially sinking the legislation.

"Imagine what they would say to the families of victims in Newtown about why a certain measure never came to a vote because they filibustered it," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Majority Leader Harry Reid brought gun control legislation to the Senate floor on Monday, though actual debate did not begin. He took the step after receiving a letter from 13 conservative Republican senators including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, saying they would use delaying tactics to try preventing lawmakers from beginning to consider the measure. Such a move takes 60 votes to overcome, a difficult hurdle in the 100-member chamber.

The conservatives said the Democratic measure would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms, citing "history's lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history's warning about the oppression of a government that tries."

Echoing a frequent demand by Obama, Reid said that in the wake of December's killings of 20 first-graders and six educators in Newtown, Conn., Republicans should allow votes on gun control proposals including expanded background checks and bans on assault weapons, saying, "Shame on them."

He added, "The least Republicans owe the parents of those 20 little babies who were murdered at Sandy Hook is a thoughtful debate about whether stronger laws could have saved their little girls and boys."

The Democratic gun legislation would require background checks for buyers in nearly all gun transactions, strengthen laws against illegal gun sales and boost school safety efforts. Democrats are trying to find GOP support by offering to compromise on the safety check proposal, but so far no deal has been completed.

With Congress returning this week from a spring break, the Sandy Hook families want to speak to senators who have not voiced support for the legislation, to ask for support in memory of their children and the school staff who were killed Dec. 14. They originally planned to travel to Washington earlier on Monday, but the White House offered to give the families a ride so they could also attend Obama's speech before their lobbying push.

The families' trip was organized by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit started by community members in the wake of the shooting. "The group is encouraging senators to come together around legislative proposals that will both save lives and respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans," the group said in a statement.