President Obama pushing for vote on assault weapons ban

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama called on the Senate to vote on a controversial ban on semiautomatic firearms modeled after military-style assault weapons, despite dim predictions from Senate leadership that such a ban will have any luck passing the upper chamber.

"These ideas shouldn't be controversial -- they're common sense. They're supported by a majority of the American people. And I urge the Senate and the House to give each of them a vote," Obama said in his weekly address.

He said there is still "genuine disagreement among well-meaning people" on how to combat gun violence. But he, added, the American people "have spoken."

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, introduced gun legislation targeted toward curbing gun deaths. However, it did not include the so-called assault weapons ban, nor another proposal backed by the Obama administration that would place limits on magazine capacities.

The bill instead included measures that expand the background check system, boost school safety and toughen laws for gun trafficking. The Senate will begin debating the bill once it returns from recess in two weeks.

Because of fierce opposition by the National Rifle Association, Republicans and some Democrats would get fewer than 40 votes on the assault weapons ban, Reid said, far below the threshold needed to defeat a filibuster or pass the Senate.

He added that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, the main proponent behind the ban, can propose the legislation as an amendment and therefore get a vote on the Senate floor.

Shortly after the Connecticut elementary school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead, a majority of Americans--52%--favored major restrictions on guns. However, that number has since dropped to 43%, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released earlier this week.

Regardless, Obama said the past three months "have changed us."

"They've forced us to answer some difficult questions about what we can do -- what we must do -- to prevent the kinds of massacres we've seen in Newtown and Aurora and Oak Creek, as well as the everyday tragedies that happen far too often in big cities and small towns all across America," he said.

"As I've said before," he added, "We may not be able to prevent every act of violence in this country. But together, we have an obligation to try. We have an obligation to do what we can."

 


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