Tearful American President Obama pleads for ‘urgency’ on gun control

Washington, January 6

President Barack Obama shed tears yesterday as he announced limited measures to tackle rampant US gun violence and called on Americans to punish lawmakers who oppose more meaningful reforms.

Flanked by survivors of the gun violence that kills around 30,000 Americans every year, and relatives of those killed, Obama became emotional as he remembered 20 elementary school children shot dead three years ago in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” the president said, struggling to collect himself. “So all of us need to demand a Congress brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby’s lies.”

In the face of Congressional opposition, Obama formally unveiled a handful of executive measures that will make it harder to buy and sell weapons, but which he admitted would not stop the scourge of mass shootings.

“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 said.

There are thought to be substantially more than 300 million guns in circulation in the United States, more than one per person.

Speaking in the East Room of the White House, Obama invoked the words of his hero, Martin Luther King, as he called for urgency in a generational struggle akin to the fight for women’s, African-American, or gay rights.

“We do have to feel a sense of urgency about it. In Dr King’s words, we need to feel the fierce urgency of now, because people are dying,” he said. “And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do.”

“Yes, it will be hard. And it won’t happen overnight. It won’t happen during this Congress. It won’t happen during my presidency,” he said.

“But a lot of things don’t happen overnight. A woman’s right to vote didn’t happen overnight. The liberation of African-Americans didn’t happen overnight. LGBT rights, that was decades worth of work.”

Taking on Republicans and the National Rifle Association directly, he decried the pro-gun lobby’s grip on Washington.

“The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now, but they can’t hold America hostage,” he said.

The NRA hit back at Obama’s “emotional, condescending lecture.”

“The timing of this announcement, in the eighth and final year of his presidency, demonstrates not only political exploitation but a fundamental lack of seriousness,” said Chris Cox, a senior NRA official.

Republicans, who have long championed gun owners, quickly castigated Obama for trampling on the constitutional right to bear arms.

“His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty,” said the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.

“No matter what President Obama says, his word does not trump the Second Amendment. We will conduct vigilant oversight. His executive order will no doubt be challenged in the courts.”