WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON — With his gun-control proposals facing an uncertain future in Washington, President Barack Obama is turning attention to state legislatures in an effort to prod Congress into action.
Speaking at the Denver Police Academy Wednesday, Obama urged federal lawmakers to follow Colorado's lead in enacting measures to curb gun violence. Last month, the state joined New York in adopting new firearms restrictions, while legislators in Maryland and Connecticut are moving forward with limits on military-style assault rifles.
"Colorado has shown that practical progress is possible," he said, surrounded by officers in uniform. "If we're really going to tackle this problem seriously then we've got to get Congress to take the next step."
The four states, all led by Democrats, are advancing measures favored by Obama in response to the Dec. 14 shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that killed 20 children and six adults. While the president made reducing gun violence a second-term priority, he and his Democratic allies so far haven't been able to transform public horror over the Newtown massacre into action at the federal level.
"The political reality hasn't really changed since Newtown," said Laura Cutilletta, an attorney who follows state gun measures for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "The will is there, and the public certainly seems to have mobilized around this issue, but the politics that surround this issue — the gun lobby and the forces that are exerting pressure on both sides — in that respect, that is still as it was before."
Since the shooting, the National Rifle Association, the nation's biggest lobby for gun owners and manufacturers with $219 million in revenue, has used its influence with Congress to throw up hurdles to legislation.
The Senate will consider this month a package of gun legislation that includes expanded background checks, a measure to curb gun trafficking and one to increase federal grants for school safety upgrades.