Obama cries while calling for stricter gun rules
WIPING back tears as he remembered children killed in a mass shooting, United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered stricter gun rules that he can impose through executive action and without congressional consent.
The Democratic President also pledged to do what he can to make gun control a theme in the months leading up to the November election to replace him, Reuters reported.
In the address in the White House, surrounded by family members of people killed in shootings, Mr Obama's voice rose to a yell as he said the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms needed to be balanced by the right to worship, gather peacefully and live their lives.
There were more than 300,000 firearm-related deaths in the US over the past decade, reported the Agence France-Presse.
Mr Obama has often said his toughest time in office was grappling with the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
"Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad," Mr Obama said, tears rolling down his cheek.
"That changed me, that day," he said, after being introduced by Mark Barden, whose seven-year-old son was killed in the shooting.
"My hope earnestly has been that it would change the country."
Despite that tragedy, Mr Obama failed to persuade Congress to toughen US gun laws.
He has blamed lawmakers for being in the thrall of the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby group.
The core of Mr Obama's move involves requiring more gun sellers to get licences and more gun buyers to undergo background checks.
But according to the New York Times (NYT), these requirements are only suggested "guidance" - issued via the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - for federal agencies to comply with, not binding regulations.
They were framed mostly as clarifications for existing law, not expanding it, NYT pointed out.
And many of these measures rely on hefty funding increases that a Republican-led Congress is almost certain to reject.
Given the legal, political and logistical hurdles, Mr Obama would find it tough to enforce his plan.
According to records, nearly 21 million gun sales were processed through the background check system in 2014.
But some industry analysts say as many as 40 per cent more firearms could have been sold through private transactions not subject to background checks.
Republican presidential candidates raced to condemn the President's attempt, arguing that his unilateral actions violate the US Constitution and restrict law-abiding citizens' access to firearms.
Their Democratic counterparts, on the other hand, praised the move, with Hillary Clinton, one of the front runners, thanking Mr Obama for "taking a crucial step forward on gun violence".