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Obama heads to Connecticut in new guns push

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US President Barack Obama heads to Connecticut Monday, not far from the site of the Newtown school massacre, in a bid to pressure Washington lawmakers into passing meaningful gun reform.

Obama will make a speech in Hartford, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 young children and six adults were gunned down in a rampage in December which sent America into deep shock.

Joining him on Air Force One will be family members of victims of the Newtown shootings, who are conducting an intense lobbying effort in Washington, a White House official said.

The president pledged to use all the power of his office to enact measures to stem violence after December's killings, but as their memory has faded, the tricky politics of Washington has chipped away at his reform package.

Obama's calls for a revived ban on assault weapons and limits on high capacity magazines appear unlikely to pass Congress, and doubt clouds the prospects of another plan -- for expanded background checks for gun owners.

The president admitted last week that "it's going to be tougher to get better gun legislation to reduce gun violence through the Senate and the House that so many of us I think want to see."

"But I still think it can get done if people are activated and involved."

The fate of gun violence legislation could be decided after lawmakers return to Washington this week after a recess.

Most Republicans oppose most Obama-backed gun reform plans, but the president also has problems from within his own party from Democratic senators hailing from conservative or rural states who are wary of more gun control.

The president is concentrating his efforts on background checks as intense negotiations take place on Capitol Hill.

"There is no reason we can't do this, unless politics is getting in the way," Obama said last week in Colorado, in the latest of several recent impassioned calls for reform.

Obama will likely highlight tough new gun ownership rules signed into law by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy last week which would ban 100 makes of rifles -- including the Bushmaster AR-15 used by killer Adam Lanza in Newtown.

col/jm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130408/obama-heads-connecticut-new-guns-push