President Obama is known for being cool and reserved in his approach to politics, so when he gets emotional in the middle of a speech, people take notice.
During today’s announcement about executive actions he plans to take to limit gun violence, Obama spoke about young people who lost their lives in mass shootings over the years.
“Our inalienable right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness – those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown, and from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun,” he said.
He paused to wipe away tears as he spoke about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” he said. “And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.”
In the face of opposition from the NRA and Republicans in Congress, Obama declared that the White House would seek to battle gun violence by expanding background checks for buyers, providing more funding for mental health treatment, hiring more staff for the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and investing in gun safety technology. “If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?”
He also called out Republicans for opposing these measures:
He defended his actions to strengthen background checks for purchasing guns, answering critics who say the measure would not make it harder for criminals to obtain firearms.
“Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying,” Obama said. “I reject that thinking.”
“We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence,” he added.