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Newtown family members entreat Congress over need for gun controls

Family members of the children and educators killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting are on Capitol Hill Tuesday, lobbying on behalf of Obama's push for gun control legislation.

By Dave CookStaff writer / April 9, 2013

President Obama hugs Newtown, Conn., family members after speaking at the University of Hartford in Hartford, Conn., on Monday. The president said US lawmakers have an obligation to the children killed and other victims of gun violence to act on his proposals.

Susan Walsh/AP

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Family members of the children and educators killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting are on Capitol Hill Tuesday, engaging in face-to-face lobbying as part the Obama administration’s effort to persuade reluctant lawmakers to enact stricter gun controls.

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Eleven Newtown family members flew into Washington Monday night on Air Force One, accompanying President Obama as he returned home from giving a gun control speech in Hartford, Conn. According to a pool report from Amie Parnes of The Hill newspaper, the president carried a red bag off the plane that contained T-shirts that said, “Team Vicki Soto.” She was one of the teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and the T-shirts were given to Mr. Obama by her sister, Jillian. 

In addition to the Newtown families’ lobbying efforts on the Hill, Tuesday afternoon Vice President Joseph Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder will, in remarks at the White House, call on Congress to approve gun legislation. Earlier, the two men will meet with law enforcement officials from around the country. 

The lobbying effort continues Wednesday when first lady Michelle Obama will make what the Los Angeles Times calls “a rare foray into a contentious issue,” by hosting a summit on youth violence in Chicago, her home town. 

These efforts are aimed at trying to get legislation through the Senate that will stiffen background checks on gun buyers. It is a heavy lift. Thirteen conservative Republican senators have written to majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada to say they will filibuster gun control legislation. With 53 Senate Democrats and two independents who usually vote with Democrats, Senator Reid is short of the 60 votes he would need to proceed.

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