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 killed in shootings across America.
Invoking the words of 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.
1. JANUARY: President Obama delivers the State of the Union address with the support of vice president Joe Biden. Obama gained mass support after his joke about winning both terms.
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2. JANUARY: President Barack Obama has an adorable moment with Akira Cooper at the Community Children's Center, one of the nation's oldest Head Start providers, in Lawrence, Kan.
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3. JANUARY: President Obama greets Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon arrival at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi, India.
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4. JANUARY: President Barack Obama greets neighbors after visiting a model home at the Nueva Villas at Beverly, a single-family housing development owned by local nonprofit organization Chicanos Por La Causa Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz.
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5. FEBRUARY: President Barack Obama fakes a jump shot during an Affordable Care Act video taping for BuzzFeed in the White House Library. The video went viral thanks to jokes about his presidency and ultra-cool swag.
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6. FEBRUARY: Obama pals around with one of his biggest supporters, vice president Joe Biden. While he chose not to run in the 2016 presidential election, Obama said he would be in his corner.
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7. FEBRUARY: President Barack Obama talks with 13-year-old student Vidal Chastanet as "Humans of New York" founder Brandon Stanton photographs during a blog interview in the Oval Office. Obama was greatly inspired by Chastanet's comments on the popular "Humans of New York" Instagram page, where he shared his troubles finding courage in school and and life despite living in a dangerous area of Brooklyn, NY.
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8. MARCH: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama join hands with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. as they lead the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Ala., March 7, 2015. Malia and Sasha Obama join hands with their grandmother, Marian Robinson.
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9. MARCH: Obama is a classic man as he puts on a green tie in observance of St. Patrick's Day.
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10. MARCH: President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.
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11. APRIL: During the Correspondents' Dinner, his anger translator - played by Key & Peele comedian Keegan-Michael Key - helped Obama get out his biggest frustrations.
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12. APRIL: President Obama arrives in Jamaica to meet with the 15-member Caribbean Community. His trip marked a first for the sitting president and second since the country's independence.
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13. APRIL: Obama speaks with newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office.
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14. JUNE: President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are seen talking during the president's trip to the G7Summit in Bavaria, Germany.
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15. JUNE: President Obama sings "Amazing Grace" during the eulogy for South Carolina state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney during Pinckney's funeral service. Clementa was one of the nine victims who died after suspected shooter Dylann Roof entered the AME church and opened fire.
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16. SEPTEMBER: President Obama is featured on the popular show "Running Wild With Bear Grylls." Obama took the trip to highlight the importance of climate control.
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17. SEPTEMBER: The First Couple serve as "love goals" at the White House's state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Madame Peng Liyuan. Obama and Xi announced an agreement on controlling climate change and a mutual outlook on cyber security.
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18. OCTOBER: President Obama meets with Ahmed Mohamed, the student who was detained by Texas police for his homemade clock. The president stood by the teen, who many believe was the victim of Islamophobia.
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19. NOVEMBER: President Obama issues a warning to his critics who "pop off" at his policies towards Syrian refugees. Speaking at the OP 21 United Nations conference on climate change, Obama welcomed his Republican critics to the White House to lay down their own policies. No one has responded.
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20. DECEMBER: President Obama addresses the public from the Oval Office regarding the San Bernardino shooting.
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21. DECEMBER: All grown up! The First Family, including Obama's mother-in-law Marian Robinson, is seen at the White House's national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 2.
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