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Overnight, Obama made an incredible speech about immense loss of life in the US due to gun violence.

US President Barack Obama has had enough.

“Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. It wasn’t the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last.

“Fort Hood. Binghamton. Aurora. Oak Creek. Newtown. The Navy Yard. Santa Barbara. Charleston. San Bernardino. Too many.”

This was the opener of a passionate speech the President made overnight announcing new gun control measures, that he was enacting without asking for permission from Congress.

Video via The White House

“I’m not on the ballot again. I’m not looking to score some points.  I think we can disagree without impugning other people’s motives or without being disagreeable,” he said.

“We don’t need to be talking past one another. But 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. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice.”

At times Obama fought back tears, as he spoke about the immense loss of life in the US due to gun violence.

Over 30,000 Americans die from gun violence annually.

“The United States of America is not the only country on Earth with violent or dangerous people. We are not inherently more prone to violence.

“But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.

“And instead of thinking about how to solve the problem, this has become one of our most polarised, partisan debates.”

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While Obama cannot force the US Congress to act on gun violence, as president he has a range of executive powers. It is these powers that he will use to make change.

The new measures include extending background checks to all gun retailers – including online and gun shows and increased funding for mental health services.

Obama used the speech to implore Republicans and the National Rifle Association to work with him.

He anticipated critics accusing him of curtailing the United States Bill of Rights with a powerful argument of his own.

“Our right to peaceful assembly – that right was robbed from moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette. Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown. First-graders. And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun.”

Obama paused to wipe a tear from his eye before continuing, visibly upset.

“Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad. And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.”

But despite his passionate call for change, it appears those seeking to replace him as President come November are less interested in this cause.

Numerous Republican candidates tweeted their opposition and hit the talk shows to announce they would rescind the measures should they win office.

So much for bipartisan cooperation. Still, Obama clearly believes that leadership can change minds, and change votes.

“Yes, the gun lobby is loud and it is organised in defence of making it effortless for guns to be available for anybody, any time,” he said.

“Well, you know what, the rest of us, we all have to be just as passionate. We have to be just as organised in defence of our kids.  This is not that complicated.

“The reason Congress blocks laws is because they want to win elections.  And if you make it hard for them to win an election if they block those laws, they’ll change course, I promise you.”

It really was a hell of a speech.

You can watch the whole thing (40+ minutes) here.

Tags: law-crime-and-justice , politics , world-news
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