WASHINGTON (CN) - President Barack Obama announced new initiatives on Tuesday aimed at curbing gun violence in the wake of a series of mass shootings across the country.
Speaking from the East Room of the White House Tuesday morning, the president announced efforts to close loopholes in background checks, pump up federal funding for people seeking mental health care and to invest in gun safety technology.
Joining Obama in the announcement were former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot during a meeting with constituents in Tucson, Arizona in 2011, Vice President Joe Biden and Mark Barden, the father of a victim of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.
Also flanking the president during the speech were 13 victims of gun violence, family members or first responders. Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, introduced Obama.
"The truth is that every gun related death is preventable, and we need your help," Barden said before the president took the podium. "We need everybody engaged in this."
Obama opened his remarks by listing the mass shootings about which he has addressed the nation during his time in office. He specifically mentioned the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Conn., the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. in 2012, and the shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C. last year.
He teared up after mentioning the first graders gunned down in Newtown, and again before acknowledging the rash of violence on the streets of his hometown Chicago.
"Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad," the president said as tears rolled down his face.
He invoked a range of political figures, from Martin Luther King Jr., to former presidents George W. Bush to Ronald Reagan in urging Americans to feel urgency on the issue of gun control.
"Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters or buried their own children," Obama said. "Many have had to learn to live with a disability, or learn to live without the love of their life."
The executive action the president announced today would force virtually anyone who sells guns, whether at a traditional store, a gun show or online, to conduct background checks.
The president said it was unfair that "dangerous people" seeking to buy guns have an easier time doing so than lawful gun owners.
In the past, criminals could circumvent background checks by simply buying their guns online or at a gun show, the president said.
"The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules," he said. "A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the Internet with no background check, no questions asked."
The regulations would also allow the FBI to hire 230 more examiners to help speed along background checks as well as 200 additional agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to enforce gun laws.
"And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice," the president said. "That's why we are here today, not to debate the last mass shooting but to prevent the next one."