ALLENWOOD — WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, with families of victims of the Connecticut school shooting tragedy at his side, Thursday pressed the Senate to pass gun-control legislation next month and urged lawmakers to resist any weakening of resolve.
"This is our best chance in more than a decade to take common-sense steps that will save lives," Obama said at a White House event, where he was joined by law enforcement officials, victims of gun violence and their families. "We have an obligation to try."
Gun controls proposed after the Dec. 14 mass killing at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school face an increasingly thorny path to passage in Congress. The White House event came as gun control supporters organized more than 120 rallies across the country Thursday, in an effort to increase pressure on lawmakers.
"Shame on us if we've forgotten" the grief of Newtown and the other mass slayings, Obama said. "There's absolutely no reason that we can't get this done."
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid plans to call for votes next month on gun legislation that includes expanded background checks and tougher penalties for gun trafficking. The bill will not include limits on military-style assault weapons and high- capacity magazines — proposals backed by the White House and anti-gun violence advocates. Those are to be offered as amendments, which Reid says lack support to pass.
Public support for tougher gun control laws has fallen by 10 percent, down to 47 percent from a peak of 57 percent just after the shootings, according to a March 26 poll by CBS News. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said they want laws kept as they are, and another 11 percent want them made less strict, CBS said.
The telephone survey March 20-24 of 1,181 adults nationwide had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.