Mark Barden, whose son, Daniel, was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, introduced President Obama by saying, "As a nation we have to do better" when it comes to fighting gun violence

By Tierney McAfee
January 05, 2016 01:55 PM

President Obama broke down in tears on Tuesday as he publicly unveiled new executive orders on gun control that bypass Congress and seek to expand background checks on firearms purchases and close the so-called “gun-show loophole.”

Under the new rules, gun dealers are required to obtain a federal seller’s license and do background checks on all buyers. The move seeks to crack down in particular on small retailers who sell firearms at gun shows and online, the majority of whom have heretofore been exempt from keeping formal sales records.

“The constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice,” Obama told the crowd gathered in the East Room of the White House Tuesday morning. “Instead of thinking of how to solve the problem, this has become one of our most polarized, partisan debates. We do need to feel a sense of urgency about it. In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the fierce urgency of now.”

President Obama
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Among the crowd were Vice President Joe Biden, former congresswoman and gun control advocate Gabby Giffords, comedian Amy Schumer, and family members of mass shooting victims.

Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, parents who each lost children in the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, were on hand to show their support for the measures.

Amy Schumer
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Barden introduced Obama, telling the crowd, “Far too many people right now who are hearing these words are grieving the loss of a loved one to gun violence. As a nation we have to do better. We are better; we’re better than this.”

He went on to praise the Obama administration’s commitment to combating gun violence but added, “The president can’t do it alone. The thing is, every gun-related death is preventable.”

Obama wiped tears from his face as he spoke about the children who were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” he said.

The president first announced on Monday that he would be rolling out the executive actions on gun control over the next few days. After meeting Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and other top officials in the Oval Office Monday afternoon, Obama said he was confident the measures “are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they’re also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support and believe.”

The initiative – which sidesteps Congress and has been condemned by GOP hopefuls and the NRA – also includes the hiring of additional examiners to help run FBI background checks, and requires gun dealers to notify the ATF when their firearms are lost or stolen in transit.

Obama is set to discuss the measures at a town hall meeting hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday evening at George Mason University.

“Congress still needs to act,” Obama said from the White House on Tuesday. “The folks in this room will not rest until Congress does. Because once Congress gets on board with common-sense gun safety measures, we can reduce gun violence a whole lot.”

“But we also can’t wait,” he added. “Until we have the Congress that’s in line with the majority of Americans, there are actions within my legal authority that we can take to help reduce gun violence and save more lives.”

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