Barack Obama announces executive orders on background checks, gun safety research

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on President Barack Obama’s executive actions to tighten gun control in the United States (all times EST):

12:25 p.m.:

President Barack Obama was moved to tears in an unusually emotional display during his announcement of new executive actions on guns.

Obama said “it gets me mad” every time he thinks about the 20 first-graders who were killed in the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in December 2012.

But his emotions had already begun to overtake him by the time he said that.

Obama spoke at the White House on Tuesday about rights that had been denied victims of other mass shootings. He mentioned freedom of religion taken from parishioners killed at a South Carolina church and freedom of assembly taken from movie-goers killed at cinemas in Colorado and Louisiana. He also mentioned the violence in his Chicago hometown.

Obama paused and wiped a tear from the corner of his left eye. Tears flowed freely down both cheeks.

12:20 p.m.:

House Speaker Paul Ryan says no matter what unilateral action President Barack Obama takes on gun control, “his word does not trump the Second Amendment.”

The Wisconsin Republican says in a statement that the president’s steps to expand background checks to cover more firearms are certain to be challenged in the courts. Ryan also is stressing that whatever the president does can be overturned if a Republican is elected president in November.

Ryan said Obama has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that the country has valued since its inception.

He says Obama “knows full well that the law already says that people who make their living selling firearms must be licensed, regardless of venue. Still, rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, he goes after the most law-abiding of citizens.”

Ryan said Obama’s words and actions “amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty.”

12:15 p.m.:

President Barack Obama says that contrary to the claims of some GOP presidential candidates, he’s not plotting to take away everyone’s guns.

Speaking in the East Room at the White House, Obama is defending his executive actions to tighten criminal background checks.

The president said Tuesday his actions are consistent with the constitutional right to right to bear arms. The president noted that he taught constitutional law, and added: “I know a little about this.”

Obama says some constraints on freedom are necessary to protect innocent people. He notes that the right to free speech also comes with the limitation that you can’t yell “fire” in a theater.

12 p.m.:

President Barack Obama is opening his announcement on new gun actions by remembering former Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Giffords was a member of Congress when she was gravely wounded five years ago this week in a shooting at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. More than a dozen others also were shot.

Obama later spoke at a memorial service in Tucson for those who didn’t survive. He says that wasn’t the first time he had to talk to the nation following a mass shooting, nor would it be the last.

The president went on to name cities around the country that have mourned the loss of life in other mass shootings. They include Fort Hood, Texas; Aurora, Colorado; Oak Creek, Wisconsin; Newtown, Connecticut and, most recently, San Bernardino, California.

Obama punctuated his list by saying “Too many.” The audience gathered in the White House East Room followed him by softly echoing “too many.”

11:50 a.m.:

The White House usually does the tweeting when President Barack Obama speaks.

But the president of a leading gun violence prevention group joined the action Tuesday for Obama’s announcement of new executive actions on guns.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, live tweeted as Obama spoke from the White House East Room.

An early tweet quoted the president as saying “Need to do something not to debate the last shooting but to prevent the next one!”

Gross became involved in gun violence prevention after his brother was shot on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in 1997.

Before arriving at the White House, Gross tweeted that he was “gonna tell Prez Jim & Sarah give huge thumbs up!”

Gross was referring to Jim Brady and his wife, Sarah, the organization’s founders. Jim Brady, who was press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, was shot in the head during the assassination attempt on Reagan in 1981. Jim Brady died in 2014. Sarah Brady died last year.

11:45 a.m.:

The father of a first-grader killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School is introducing President Barack Obama’s speech on gun regulation.

Mark Barden’s son, Daniel, was one of 20 students killed at the school three years ago.

Barden now helps lead a program called Sandy Hook Promise. The group seeks to prevent gun-related deaths through the enactment of what it calls “sensible gun violence prevention laws, policy and regulations.” Several other parents of Sandy Hook children also participate in the group.

In the three years since the Sandy Hook shootings, Barden says, far too many lives have been lost to gun tragedies. He says that “as a nation, we have to do better.”

Barden’s group is particularly appreciative of Obama’s focus on getting people more access to mental health care.

11:30 a.m.

More GOP candidates are chiming in with criticism of President Barack Obama’s executive actions to tighten gun regulation in the U.S.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says Obama is “obsessed” with undermining the Second Amendment.

During a town hall-style meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rubio told reporters Tuesday that the president’s new executive actions on guns undermine Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms.

Rubio says he opposes gun violence but that the president’s plans won’t help prevent it. The GOP presidential candidate says he’ll work to overturn the executive actions.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, for his part, is labeling Obama’s actions “a blatant, belligerent abuse of power.”

11 a.m.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says President Barack Obama is acting unlawfully and showing disregard for the Second Amendment with his actions on gun control.

Bush is panning Obama’s set of measures in an op-ed in Iowa’s Cedar Rapids Gazette. He’s comparing the gun actions to Obama’s executive action on immigration and says Obama is flouting the proper constitutional process for lawmaking.

Bush says it’s even more important to defend gun rights because of Islamic State-linked attacks and mass shootings in Paris and California.

Obama is unveiling the new actions at the White House on Tuesday. He’s aiming to expand background checks to cover more firearms by requiring more people to register as federally licensed gun dealers.

Bush and his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination have said they’ll undo Obama’s actions if elected.

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