President Barack Obama put forward a number of measures on Tuesday with regard to tightening control and enforcement of firearms in the U.S., using his presidential powers in the absence of legal changes he implored Congress to pass.An apparently emotional President Barack Obama, at one point was wiping tears from his cheek.
Obama accused the gun lobby of taking Congress hostage, but said “they cannot hold America hostage.” He insisted it was possible to uphold the Second Amendment while doing something to tackle the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. that he said had become “the new normal.”
The president ran through a list of mass shootings that have happened during his time in office, and teared up as he recalled the schoolchildren gunned down in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
“Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns. Thirty thousand. Suicides, domestic violence, gang shootouts, accidents. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters or buried their own children,” he remarked.
“Many have had to learn to live with a disability or learn to live without the love of their life. A number of those people are here today. They can tell you some stories,” he continued. “In this room right here, there are a lot of stories. There’s a lot of heartache. There’s a lot of resilience, there’s a lot of strength, but there’s also a lot of pain. And this is just a small sample.”
As Obama delivered a powerful address in the White House, surrounded by family members of people killed in shootings, his voice rose to a yell as he said the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms needed to be balanced by the right to worship, gather peacefully and live their lives
“This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns,” Obama said in a ceremony in the East Room. “You pass a background check, you purchase a firearm. The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules.”
“I’m not on the ballot again. I’m not looking to score some points. I think we can disagree without impugning other people’s motives,” he said. “But we do have to feel a fierce sense of urgency about it. In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the fierce urgency of now. Because people are dying and the constant excesses for action no longer do, no longer suffice. That’s why we’re here today, not to debate the last mass shooting but to prevent the next one.”
“No matter how many times people try to twist my words around, I taught constitutional law, I know a little bit about this. I get it,” he said. “But I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.”
Obama has often expressed that his toughest time in office was grappling with the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said, tears rolling down his cheek.