ATHERTON, Calif. (AP) - Conceding the fraught politics of guns, President Barack Obama said Thursday that passing legislation curbing access to firearms would be a tougher slog than immigration reform.
Obama told an intimate group of high-dollar donors Thursday he is optimistic immigration legislation can succeed within the next few months, because the impact of the November election is breaking through partisan gridlock.
"People spoke out through the ballot box," he said. "It's going to be tougher to get the kind of gun legislation to reduce gun violence through the Senate and the House that so many of us, I think, want to see, particularly after the tragedy of Newtown. And I still think it can get done if people are activated and involved."
It was Obama's most candid assessment yet on the prospects of gun legislation in Congress, an issue he has been pushing since a gunman shot and killed 20 children and six educators in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December.
Obama has been pushing Congress to act on both the gun and immigration issues. Senators are preparing a bipartisan immigration bill that's expected to be released as early as next week. But in the face of stiff opposition from the National Rifle Association, efforts in Congress to curb gun violence are in danger of losing steam.
Obama has called for expanding background checks for gun buyers and has supported bans on certain assault weapons and limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines. But lately, he has been emphasizing the background checks over the other measures, insisting simply that lawmakers get a chance to vote on the assault weapons ban and the magazine limits.
Obama spoke at a campaign event in California for the Democratic National Committee. It was one of four fundraisers he's doing for Democrats this week.
Obama made his remarks on the same day Connecticut's governor, Dannel P. Malloy, signed into law new restrictions on weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines similar to the ones used by the shooter in the Newtown mass murder.
Obama is going to Hartford, Conn., on Monday to continue his push for federal gun legislation.