WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — President Barack Obama was greeted by supportive crowds on Monday as he arrived at the University of Hartford to make a speech pushing for Congress to enact gun control legislation.
Tom Moran, a mail carrier from Fenton, Mich., traveled to West Hartford to show his backing for the president. He held an oversized sign: ‘‘Universal background checks stop mentally ill, felons, domestic abusers from buying guns.’’
Moran was among a group of onlookers on Obama’s route and said a large majority of Americans support background checks of potential gun buyers.
‘‘It’s only going to pass if people speak up,’’ he said.
Moran said his visit was motivated by a gunman’s massacre of 20 children and six educators at a Newtown elementary school last year.
‘‘I think of those parents that lost their kids, and I think about what I can do to help,’’ he said. ‘‘And what I'm doing today is helping get the message out.’’
One gun rights advocate held a sign quoting the Second Amendment guaranteeing Americans the right to keep and bear arms.
Abner Gershon, a West Hartford physician, said he is ‘‘very much sympathetic’’ to victims of gun violence. He said more gun control laws are the ‘‘wrong approach’’ and efforts should be made instead to prohibit mentally ill people from acquiring guns.
Obama, in his speech, praised Connecticut, New York and Maryland for recently enacting legislation that restricts gun use without infringing on Second Amendment rights.
‘‘Now it’s time for Congress to do the same,’’ he said.
A few hundred ticket holders, including Jonathan Harris, executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party, were not admitted because of crowd limits.
A Newtown resident also went to the university campus to show his support for gun control legislation.
Hank Lopez-Cepero, a gun owner and 28-year Navy pilot, said Americans need to speak out on the issue.
‘‘The silent majority has to become vocal in this country,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s time.’’