President Barack Obama said Thursday that if gun control measures are going to pass Congress, gun control advocates have to get as organized and well-financed as the National Rifle Association.
“Honestly this is not going to change unless the people who want to prevent these kinds of mass shootings from taking place feel at least as passionate, at least as mobilized and well-funded as the NRA and the gun manufacturers are because the politics in Congress are such where even members of Congress who know better are fearful if they vote their concience and support common sense measures like background checks, they’re worried they’re gong to lose,” Obama said at a town hall meeting in Minneapolis.
The Michael Bloomberg-financed Every Town for Gun Safety has a stated goal of being able to financially challenge the NRA.
Obama reflected back on the December 2012 elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and said he thought that would have prompted Congress to take action.
“Since legislation has been controversial for some time, I thought that this was going to be a breakthrough moment,” Obama said. “It was probably the most disappointing moment I had in dealing with Congress.”
The Democratic Senate defeated an Obama-backed bill to increase background checks for gun purchasers in 2013.
Obama said that his 24 executive actions enacted since then are “making sure we are sifting through and separating out responsible gun owners from people who really shouldn’t be having a weapon. So we’ve probably made some progress. We’ve probably saved a few lives.”
“This is the only advanced country that tolerates something like this,” Obama said. “We have what’s basically a mass shooting it seems like happening once every couple of weeks. Kids on college campuses, kids at home. We are not going to be able to eliminate all of that violence, and there is a strong tradition of gun ownership and wonderful folks who are sportsmen and hunters. I respect all that. We should be able to take some basic common sense steps that by the way are supported by most responsible gun owners, like having background checks so you can’t just walk into a store and buy a semi-automatic. It’s something I’m going to keep on talking about.”