An emotional President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled new executive measures to curtail domestic gun violence.
The actions include long-expected background checks for all firearms purchases, better funding for mental health programs, and increased public-private cooperation to boost gun safety technology.
“The constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice. That's why we are here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to prevent the next one,” Obama said at the White House.
“We don't need to be talking past one another, but we do have to feel a sense of urgency about it,” he added.
Gun sellers have been able to seize upon a legal loophole that allows them to sell their wares online and at gun shows – gatherings of gun hobbyists where guns are bought and sold – without being licensed.
That will change under the new presidential measures, forcing all sellers to be licensed and conduct background checks.
“We've created a system in which dangerous people are allowed to play by a different set of rules than a responsible gun owner who buys his or her gun the right way and subjects themselves to a background check. That doesn't make sense,” Obama said.
With the new rules, “You pass a background check, you purchase a firearm,” he added. “This is not a plot to take away everybody's guns.”
Obama tasked his senior law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and FBI Director James Comey, with crafting the new regulations last year.
A series of high-profile gun-related tragedies, the latest of which was outside of Los Angeles in San Bernardino, prompted Obama to call for the legal review.
Fighting back tears, Obama recalled 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.
“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said, wiping away tears.
More than 100,000 victims have been killed by gun violence in the past decade, according to the White House.
Republicans have staunchly opposed new regulations on firearms, saying that they will do little to actually stem the tide of gun-related violence.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush lashed out at Obama earlier Tuesday in an op-ed for The Gazette newspaper in Iowa, saying that Obama’s pledge to enact new gun control legislation “shows an utter disregard for the Second Amendment as well as the proper constitutional process for making laws in our nation”.
The Second Amendment enshrines Americans’ right to bear arms.
Minutes after Obama's speech concluded, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is also a Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, tweeted a picture of himself firing a semi-automatic rifle with the full text of the constitutional article spanning the image.