While announcing his executive actions on gun control in a Tuesday news conference, President Obama made an emotional plea for an overhaul of current gun control measures, at one point shedding tears as he discussed the deaths of children who were slain in shootings across America.
Invoking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the president said the country needs to possess a “fierce urgency of now” to combat gun violence and not only discuss the latest mass shooting, but prevent it.
“We do have to feel a sense of urgency about it,” Obama said from the White House, surrounded by gun violence victims and their families. “In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the fierce urgency of now.”
“[F]irst graders in Newtown. First graders. Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad…and by the way it happens on the streets of Chicago every day,”Obama said as he wiped tears away.
The president’s speech outlined a number of executive actions he plans to put forth to curb gun violence and loopholes that allow criminals to obtain firearms.
Part of his plan includes expanding background checks and $500 million for mental health services.
“Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks,” Obama said of his plan to update the current system.
“We’re going to do more to help those suffering from mental illness get the help they need.”
Obama also hopes to make advancements in gun safety technology.
“If there’s an app that can help us find a missing tablet, which happens to me often…if we can do it for your iPad there’s no reason we can’t do it for guns,” Obama said. “If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure they can’t pull a trigger on a gun.”
The White House tweeted a breakdown of the measures the president hopes to bring forth:
Addressing critics who say the president’s plan undermines the Second Amendment, Obama tackled the claim head on, saying Republicans and presidential candidates are trying to “twist” his words.
“I believe in the Second Amendment…I talk constitutional law, I know a little bit about this,” Obama said. “We can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.”
The family members of gun violence victims flanked Obama on the stage, including Lucy McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, and Jennifer Pinckney, wife of the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who died in the AME massacre last summer.
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