WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At noon, after a day and a morning of lobbying mostly elusive or noncommittal congressmen, the Newtown Action Alliance was joined in the Capitol building by its most prominent allies: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.); Murphy's successor, Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat whose 5th district includes Newtown; and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who has co-authored the House version of the background checks bill that floundered two months ago in the Senate.
Reid, who referenced his father's suicide with a pistol, said legislation that requires background checks for all gun purchases -- and not a "watered-down version," he said, is inevitable.
"The writing is on the wall," he said. "Background checks will pass the United States Senate. It's only a question of when."
They were joined at the press conference by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Rep. Joe Courtney (D- 2nd District) and Rep. Ron Barber (D -- Ariz.), who was shot along with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also met with relatives of the victims. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said that the White House commends their "courage and perseverance." "We want them to know that, as we approach the six-month anniversary of that terrible day, we will never forget and we will continue to fight alongside them," Carney said. The White House would provide no details, saying that was intended to protect the families' privacy.
Biden plans to hold a gun control event at the White House on Tuesday, although his office won't discuss any details. Last week, Biden sent an email to Democrats saying he has complete faith Congress will pass meaningful gun laws if everything is done to make it happen and declared, "This fight is far from over."
The alliance group traveled to Washington Wednesday for the purpose of recalling attention to the 26 shooting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Dec. 14. Friday is the six-month mark since that day.
Material by The Associated Press was used in this story.
(c)2013 The Day (New London, Conn.)
Visit The Day (New London, Conn.) at www.theday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services