Obama urges new gun control push, citing latest mass shootings

President tells Congressional Black Caucus to get "back at it" and stalled background check bill

President Barack Obama speaks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) 43rd Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. The dinner is part of a four-day conference on public policy affecting black communities in America and overseas.
Charles Dharapak/AP

President Barack Obama made a fresh call for greater gun controls over the weekend, urging his most ardent supporters to regroup and help push stalled legislation through Congress.

"We can't rest until all of our children can go to school or walk down the street free from the fear that they will be struck down by a stray bullet," Obama said in a keynote speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual awards dinner Saturday.

The remarks came on the back of another bloody week in terms of gun violence in the U.S., with mass shootings in both Washington D.C. and Chicago.

Legislation calling for expanded background checks failed to clear the Senate earlier this year, despite momentum for change seemingly being generated in the wake of last December’s massacre of 20 children and six adults in a Connecticut school.

“We fought a good fight earlier this year, but we came up short.  And that means we've got to get back up and go back at it,” Obama told the Caucus.

The bill that fizzled was part of a package of measures Obama promised to put the full weight of his office behind after 20 first-graders and six educators were killed last December in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Republicans and some Democrats voted against the measure.

Obama used the occasion of his keynote speech on Saturday to make his first public comments about this week's shootings.

On Thursday night, in the president’s former hometown of Chicago, 13 people out watching a game of pickup basketball at a neighborhood park were wounded by gunfire, including a 3-year-old boy.

Days earlier at a Navy Yard in the capital, 12 people were killed by a gunman who later was killed by police.

"Happening every single day"

Obama is due to speak later Sunday evening at a memorial service in Washington for the victims of that shooting.

"I’ll be meeting and mourning with families in this city who now know the same unspeakable grief of families in Newtown, and Aurora, and Tucson, and Chicago, and New Orleans, and all across the country -- people whose loved ones were torn from them without headlines sometimes, or public outcry.  But it's happening every single day," the president noted in his address Saturday.

After Monday’s shooting, the White House said that Obama is using his executive authority to tighten access to guns and remains committed to strengthening gun laws, including requiring background checks for sales online and at gun shows.

Saturday’s Congressional Black Caucus event celebrated the "Spirit of 1963," including the civil rights movement and the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice led 50 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial by Martin Luther King Jr.

The annual dinner noted the advances that the movement brought about for black Americans, including voting rights, desegregation and Obama's election in 2008 as America's first black president.

Without mentioning his place in history, Obama acknowledged progress made since 1963 but said there was more to be done.

He spoke of work needed to reduce an unemployment rate among blacks that is twice that of whites, increase the minimum wage as he proposed earlier this year and provide health care and education for all.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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