President Obama heads to Denver Wednesday, forging ahead with his effort to get Congress to pass stricter gun control laws and will hold up Colorado as an example of what he wants to see lawmakers in Washington accomplish.
Colorado has gone farther than any state outside the northeast in passing new gun laws. The state now prohibits the sale of magazines that hold more than 15 bullets and requires background checks for all private gun sales. Democrats passed the laws over strong Republican objections. Democrats said they were reacting to last year's massacres at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Connecticut's General Assembly is expected to pass a gun control package this week that goes even further by banning new high-capacity ammunition magazines and creating new registration requirements for existing magazines that carry 10 or more bullets.
Wednesday, the president will attend a roundtable discussion at the Denver Police Academy with law enforcement and community leaders to discuss the gun control package recently signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo. Mr. Obama will also deliver remarks following the discussion.
He is also scheduled to speak at the University of Hartford, in Connecticut on Monday. Families of those killed in Newtown are being invited to attend.
While the president is sure to tout both states' actions, back in Washington, the fate of gun control legislation is, at best, unclear. A vote on a Senate bill, including expanded background checks and harsher penalties for gun trafficking, is expected this month. But, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced last month that an assault weapons ban won't be part of the gun control package, saying that there simply aren't enough votes in the Democratic-led Senate to pass a ban.
"The president has always said, and we have always said, that this would be hard," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday. "If that weren't the case, it would have been done before. If it were simple to pass measures through Congress that are very common sense but would reduce gun violence in America, those measures would have passed already."
The popularity of stronger gun control seemed to soar in the weeks following the tragedy in Newtown: in December, just after the shootings, 57 percent of respondents in a CBS News poll said gun control laws should be more strict. Fast forward three months, and that number dropped to 47 percent in another CBS News poll released last week.
Mr. Obama on Thursday reiterated the measures to reduce gun violence that he supports, including stricter penalties for straw purchases and expanded background checks. While he didn't explicitly say he supported an assault weapons ban, he called for a "measure to keep weapons of war... that facilitate these mass killings off our streets."
"None of these ideas should be controversial," he said.
The president noted that 90 percent of Americans, including an overwhelming number of Republicans and gun owners, support background checks for gun purchases.
"I ask every American to find out where your member of Congress stands," Mr. Obama said. If they don't support expanded background checks, he said, "then you should ask them, why not. Why are you part of the 10 percent?"
Meantime, as Democrats struggle to shepherd stricter gun laws through Congress, a group associated with and funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA) is pushing its own proposal for reducing mass shootings in schools, unveiling Tuesday a 225-page "school safety" report that recommends sending a trained, armed officer to every school in America, as well as various "layered security" measures it says will make schools safer.