President Barack Obama delivered an emotional speech at the White House surrounded by advocates for gun control reform on Tuesday, according to Mashable.
Obama became emotional when speaking about the victims of gun violence, especially those from Sandy Hook Elementary School. Prior to his speech, he was introduced by the father of one victim – one of 20.
“Every time I think about those kids, it makes me mad,” said Obama. “We need to feel the fierce urgency of now because people are dying,” he continued, reciting a similar line from civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
During his speech, he announced that background checks will be required for guns purchased from dealers, including those purchased online or at gun shows. This means that anyone who engaged in the business of selling guns must obtain a federal seller’s license and check the backgrounds of all buyers. The initiative also includes the hiring of hundreds of additional examiners to help the FBI conduct the added background checks and it will require gun dealers to notify the ATF when their guns have been lost or stolen.
According to Mashable, “The Obama administration also issued guidance directing federal agencies to conduct or sponsor research into smart gun technology that reduces the risk of accidental gun discharges. And the White House plans to ask Congress for $500 million to improve mental healthcare.”
Obama acknowledged that this will spark the political debate over the Second Amendment, which it did.
Prior to Obama’s announcement, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump left it simple saying, “We’re not changing the Second Amendment. I will veto that. I will unsign that so fast.”
But fellow Democrats stood by Obama’s decision, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told CNN, “The vast majority of the American people are horrified by the mass shootings we have seen. They want action. What the president is trying to do now is to expand the instant background check by closing the gun show loophole. I think he’s doing what the American people would like him to do.”
A New York Times/CBS News poll out last month found that 51 percent of Americans say gun control laws should be made stricter, but 46 percent said they should be loosened or left as they are.
Obama is expected to continue to press his case on guns Thursday, when he will participate in a town hall at George Mason University that will be televised on CNN. Changes to the nation’s gun laws will likely be a big part of it.
The only way we are going to make our country safer from this epidemic of gun violence is with action: we need to fix our background check system and we need to pass a federal law that actually defines gun trafficking as a crime,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “I’m pleased that the President and his administration are taking steps to address this crisis. We have an obligation to do everything possible to keep Americans safe, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to take steps to end the scourge of gun violence in the new year.