At times amid tears, President Barack Obama called Tuesday on citizens, members of Congress and those who have grieved the death of a loved one due to gun violence to join together to implement responsible firearm laws.
Obama spoke from the White House surrounded by the families of victims of gun violence, along with survivors of mass shootings, urging Americans to continue to fight "powerful gun lobbies" and to "never give up. "
Mark Barden, the father of a first-grader killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, introduced the president and vice president Tuesday. Barden's son, Daniel, was one of 20 students killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The package of administration actions the president referenced during the 40 minute address includes 10 provisions under four categories – Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks; Make our communities safer from gun violence; Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system; Shape the future of gun safety technology.
Some of the actions the president proposed Tuesday include "making clear that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business ... if you are in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks;" the establishment of an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms; a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care, and an emphasis on "smart gun" technology - measures to improve gun safety.
The administrative actions disappointed some who wanted the so-called "gun show loophole" completely closed. Current federal law exempts from license requirements anyone who sells guns occasionally as a hobby or as part of maintaining a collection. The provisions in the president’s plan hopes to require more people to have a license and run background checks by redefining the term "dealer" using several factors including how quickly a person can sell guns they acquire, how often and how many guns they sell, and what they make on the sale of the guns.
According to records kept by The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, more than 100 million background checks have been made in the last decade. The NICS check looks for people who have criminal records or who are otherwise ineligible to purchase a gun. They have denied more than 700,000 request in 10 years, their website said.
In Texas, more than 1.5 million people underwent a background check prior to purchasing a gun in 2015. In Florida, a state with a population of 19.89 million, saw 1,147,082 background checks last year with 168,935 coming in December alone.
In Ohio, where there is no permit needed to purchase a gun and no registration of guns after their purchase, 748,502 people underwent background checks in 2015. In Georgia, where for $75 you can get a concealed carry permit, the NICS ran checks on 566,946 people.
Kentucky, by far, had more background checks in than any other state in 2015 with 3,218,371 checks. The state with the lowest number of background checks was Hawaii with 15,290.
Social media was quick to react to the president's emotional appeal.
The president will take part in a town hall meeting at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., to be broadcast on CNN Thursday at 8 p.m. (ET)