President Barack Obama tried to shame the nation and Congress into action against gun violence Thursday, saying it is time to pass new laws after the tears and grief of tragedies like the Newtown massacre in December that killed 20 first-graders.
"We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn't just a bunch of platitudes, that we meant it," Obama said at a White House event on a national day of action by supporters of tougher gun laws.
His voice both somber and angry, Obama told the audience, which included family members of Newtown victims, that "we've cried enough" and it is time now for Americans to pressure their elected leaders to pass a package of laws proposed by Senate Democrats.
The proposals, all recommended by the president in the aftermath of the killings at an elementary school in Connecticut, include expanded background checks, tougher laws against gun trafficking and straw purchases, and improving safety at schools.
Fierce opposition led by the influential National Rifle Association and conservative politicians has made passage of the measures uncertain.
In addition, polls conducted over the past few weeks suggest that more than three months after the Newtown killings, public backing for major new gun laws has dropped.
Obama noted the political challenge as well as the poll numbers.
"There are some powerful voices on the other side who are interested in running out the clock, or changing the subject," the president said, adding that "their assumption is that people will just forget about it."
If that happens, Obama said, then "shame on us if we've forgotten."
In trying to rally further public outcry, he declared that "nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change."
Along with the White House event, the national day of action included rallies and other gatherings in cities across the country by supporters of new gun legislation.
"There are 80 million moms in this country," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, after the White House event. "This is a non-partisan issue. It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or if you're a Democrat. We need to come together under one umbrella and say 'enough.'"
In addition, a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns launched a $12 million ad campaign targeting members of Congress in 10 states to act on the legislation backed by Obama and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on mostly partisan lines.
Another proposal passed by the committee -- a ban on semiautomatic firearms that are modeled after military assault rifles -- already appears doomed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped the ban -- proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California -- from the package going to the Senate floor because it lacked enough support to overcome a GOP filibuster. Reid said it can still be offered as an amendment to force a vote, as sought by Obama and Feinstein.
Even if gun legislation passes the Democratic-led Senate, it has less chance of winning approval in the Republican-controlled House.
Obama rejected arguments by opponents of the legislation that the measures would strip Americans of their constitutional right to bear arms.
"What we're proposing is not radical. It's not taking away anyone's guns rights," the president said in warning legislators against getting "squishy because time has passed and maybe it's not on the news every day."
Instead, he said, it's time to demonstrate that the American character includes being "willing to follow through on what we say is important."
Obama and others pushing for tougher gun laws say the December attack by a lone gunman that killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, showed the need for national action against gun violence.
They note the killer, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, used a semiautomatic rifle with 30-round capacity magazines, both of which would be banned under Feinstein's proposal.
Opponents of tougher gun laws, led by the NRA, argue most gun violence involves pistols in urban areas, rather than the semiautomatic firearms targeted by Feinstein. Better enforcement of existing laws and posting armed security guards in schools would be more effective remedies, according to the NRA.
Watts, however told reporters her group of American moms rejects the NRA prescription for the country.
"We are not going to put our kids in schools with shields and send them to school in bulletproof backpacks and let the good guys shoot it out with the bad guys over our kids' heads," Watts said.
Police released new documents Thursday related to the Newtown shootings that say police found more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition in the home where Lanza killed his mother with one of her own guns, shooting her in the forehead as she lay in bed.