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Activists Pushing Obama For Stricter Gun Laws

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President Barack Obama wipes his eye as he speaks about the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
President Barack Obama wipes his eye as he speaks about the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington.

President Obama called for meaningful action in response to the massacre in Newtown, Conn. Friday, and White House Press Sec. Jay Carney reiterated that the president remains committed to reinstating the assault weapons ban. But that isn't good enough for many people.

Rev. Michael McBride, an activist with the organizing group PICO, says the nation needs to reconsider what he believes are lax gun laws. McBride is calling on the president to use his State of the Union address this year to address the issue.

"We need leadership, and we need action," says McBride. "That will be a moment where all of us as a country... we'll all be listening. It will be a moment where Congress can stand up together in solidarity and say that we have a plan."

Toby Quaranta remembers attending funerals for two of his friends at Virginia Tech after the shooting there in 2007. He also remembers many public officials refused to discuss new gun control measures in the wake of the killing.  

"While I think it's important to be respectful of the people who are grieving, I certainly have been in that position myself, it's important to address these issues," he says. "It's important to talk about them. And it's important to be respectful, but we must talk about them and now is the time." 

Quaranta, now president of the D.C. Young Democrats, wants better mental health screenings for gun owners. Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill also want the assault weapon ban reinstated and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is calling for a national commission on mass violence. Congressman Connolly says it's time for lawmakers to stand up to the National Rifle Association, which he blames for blocking gun-control measures. 

"I think this latest tragedy is one in which we have to move beyond mourning and feeling the tragedy and feeling sorrowful," Quaranta says. "We have to talk about 'what can we do?' I think we need to a national debate about reasonable gun control in America. I think that debate is long overdue."

Republicans control the U.S. House, however, and many in the party oppose stricter gun laws. That could imperil any effort to tweak U.S. gun reform. The NRA did not respond to a request for a comment.

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