CNN reports from the White House today:
President Barack Obama grew emotional Tuesday as he made a passionate call for a national “sense of urgency” to limit gun violence.
He was introduced by Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Obama circled back to that shooting in the final moments of his speech.
“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said, pausing to wipe away tears.
He added: “And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day,” referring to his hometown where he began his political career.
The White House is introducing a new requirement that would expand background checks for buyers. The measure mandates that individuals “in the business of selling firearms” register as licensed gun dealers, effectively narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” which exempts most small sellers from keeping formal sales records.
Among those in attendance today was Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, whose son’s violent death a decade ago helped propel her into public office and make her a leading advocate for gun safety legislation. As the Denver Post reports:
In 2013, Democrats passed a law that required Coloradans to undergo a background check when they sold and transferred a firearm, whether the gun was a purchase from a store or a swap between close friends. Colorado closed the gun-show loophole by requiring checks for purchases at gun shows after Columbine.
“The nation has to catch up with Colorado,” Fields said. [Pols emphasis]
And it wasn’t just Rep. Fields representing Colorado at the White House today. Two Democratic state senators who lost seats in the 2013 recall elections initiated by the gun lobby in retaliation for the passing of that year’s gun safety bills, former Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron, were also on hand for Obama’s announcement.
Because Colorado already has in place most of what Obama announced today, there’s nothing new for local gun rights supporters to complain about–which won’t stop them, of course. But it should also be noted that the specific policy Obama is strengthening, so far as he can without legislative support, is overwhelmingly supported by voters even as they express disdain for the concept of “gun control.” Background checks to screen out persons who are already prohibited from owning guns is a no-brainer in the eyes of an overwhelming percentage of respondents to every poll that asks the question.
Going on three years later, there is still debate among Colorado Democrats as to whether the 2013 gun safety bills were worth the political damage. Both seats lost in the recalls were retaken by Democrats in 2014, and another state senate seat that was narrowly lost to the GOP as an indirect result of the 2013 gun debate is ripe to be picked back up this year. The personal sacrifices of Sens. Morse, Giron, and Evie Hudak notwithstanding, the predictions of political catastrophe for Democrats after taking on the gun issue have not come true in Colorado.
And today, the President of the United States powerfully backed them up. Is it the end of the debate? Of course not. Starting next week, Colorado Republicans are going to take their perennial shot at repealing everything that was passed in 2013, invoking the names Morse, Giron, and Hudak the whole way. But the longsuffering public servants in the photo you see above should be proud. The laws they gave everything to pass are still on the books. Colorado’s success in passing common-sense gun safety laws stands as a hard-won model that may yet be emulated in other states.
It was not for nothing.