WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday urged Congress to pass "commonsense measures" already cleared in the Senate to protect children from gun violence.
"It has now been three months since the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut. Three months since we lost 20 innocent children and six dedicated adults who had so much left to give. Three months since we, as Americans, began asking ourselves if we're really doing enough to protect our communities and keep our children safe," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
"For the families who lost a loved one on that terrible day, three months doesn't even begin to ease the pain they're feeling right now. It doesn't come close to mending the wounds that may never fully heal.
"But as a nation, the last 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."
Obama said while there is still "genuine disagreement among well-meaning people" about how to reduce gun violence, the American people have made it clear that it's time to do something.
"Two weeks ago, the Senate advanced a bill that would make it harder for criminals and people with a severe mental illness from getting their hands on a gun -- an idea supported by nine out of ten Americans, including a majority of gun owners.
"The Senate also made progress on a bill that would crack down on anyone who buys a gun as part of a scheme to funnel it to criminals -- reducing violent crime and protecting our law enforcement officers.
"Finally, the Senate took steps to reinstate and strengthen a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons, set a 10-round limit for magazines, and make our schools safer places for kids to learn and grow," the president said.
"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. ...
"Right now, we have a real chance to reduce gun violence in America, and prevent the very worst violence. We have a unique opportunity to reaffirm our tradition of responsible gun ownership, and also do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or people with a severe mental illness.
"We've made progress over the last three months, but we're not there yet. And in the weeks ahead, I hope members of Congress will join me in finishing the job -- for our communities and, most importantly, for our kids."