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NBC Touts 'Sweeping Gun Control' in Connecticut, National 'Call to Action' to Curb Gun Rights

On Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie heralded that Connecticut had "approved some of the tightest gun control legislation in the country as President Obama is pushing for tougher laws nationwide." The headline on screen proclaimed: "Tough New State Gun Laws; Connecticut Governor to Sign Sweeping Gun Control Bill."

In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker touted President Obama's cross-country trip "aimed at campaigning for stiffer gun laws," but lamented that such legislation was "virtually stalled in Congress." She then optimistically declared: "It's a different story in the states in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. This morning, the Connecticut state legislature passed some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, expanding background checks and adding 100 guns to the list of banned assault weapons."

Welker announced that the President had "ramped up pressure on Congress" to support gun restrictions during a speech in Colorado. She announced: "Surrounded by Denver police officers just miles away from the Aurora movie theater where 12 lives were claimed last summer, the President called on lawmakers to do what states like Connecticut and Colorado already have, pass stiffer gun laws."

Touting a new poll conducted by Marist College and MSNBC's liberal morning talk show, Morning Joe, Welker explained: "Despite the gridlock in Washington...60% believe laws covering gun sales should be more strict." The headline on-screen read: "Call to Action; President Faces Pressure for Federal Action on Gun Control."

Welker only briefly noted gun rights supporters in the lopsided report: "But stiff opposition remains, on Wednesday there was a pro-gun rally in Boston, and the NRA continues its public campaign against gun control."

Wrapping up the segment, Welker promoted more polling: "87% of Americans support expanding background checks, but even that faces a tough road in Congress." She noted that Obama would traveling to Connecticut to "continue to press for new federal gun laws."

In a news brief at the top of the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, anchor Natalie Morales delivered a news brief on the topic, detailing the new Connecticut restrictions on "assault weapons" and describing the gun used in the Newtown shooting as a "military-style semi-automatic rifle."

On Wednesday's Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams asserted "Gun laws [were] front and center for President Obama once again today," but lamented that "momentum seems to be fading post-Newtown." Williams added: "In Colorado today, the President visited a police academy, congratulated lawmakers there for tightening gun rules....the President told the audience there doesn't have to be a conflict between the safety of citizens and Second Amendment rights in this country."

Here is a full transcript of the April 4 Today report:

7:05AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Now to Connecticut, where early this morning lawmakers approved some of the tightest gun control legislation in the country as President Obama is pushing for tougher laws nationwide. NBC's White House correspondent Kristen Welker is traveling with the President, she's in San Francisco this morning. Kristen, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Tough New State Gun Laws; Connecticut Governor to Sign Sweeping Gun Control Bill]

KRISTEN WELKER: Savannah, good morning to you. President Obama will spend the day fundraising, but the first part of this trip was aimed at campaigning for stiffer gun laws, something that is virtually stalled in Congress. But it's a different story in the states in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. This morning, the Connecticut state legislature passed some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, expanding background checks and adding 100 guns to the list of banned assault weapons. Following the vote, reaction was swift.

BRENDAN SHARKEY [D, CONNECTICUT HOUSE SPEAKER]: Now with the Governor's signature, we'll have the strongest gun safety laws in the country. Hopefully that is some measure of comfort to the victims of Newtown.

WELKER: Earlier on Wednesday, with federal gun laws facing an uncertain future, President Obama ramped up pressure on Congress.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Call to Action; President Faces Pressure for Federal Action on Gun Control]

BARACK OBAMA: We must do something to protect our communities and our kids.

WELKER: Surrounded by Denver police officers just miles away from the Aurora movie theater where 12 lives were claimed last summer, the President called on lawmakers to do what states like Connecticut and Colorado already have, pass stiffer gun laws.

BARACK OBAMA: Every day that we wait to do something about it, even more of our fellow citizens are stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

WELKER: Despite the gridlock in Washington, a new Morning Joe/Marist poll shows 60% believe laws covering gun sales should be more strict. But stiff opposition remains, on Wednesday there was a pro-gun rally in Boston, and the NRA continues its public campaign against gun control. Analysts say there's a reason the states have been quick to act.

JOHN HUDAK [BROOKINGS INSTITUTION]: A lot of times these issues in the states are more in their face, in the face of legislature – legislators. The governors are dealing with this every day.

WELKER: 87% of Americans support expanding background checks, but even that faces a tough road in Congress. As for Connecticut, the Governor is expected to sign the legislation into law later today. The President will visit that state on Monday and continue to press for new federal gun laws. Matt.

MATT LAUER: Alright, Kristen Welker in San Francisco this morning. Kristen, thank you very much.