Obama's speech lasted for 37 minutes and it became part eulogy, part admission of political failure and part constitutional lecture on the Second Amendment.
Obama was flanked by over a dozen men and women, many of whom were consoled privately by the president himself after gun violence claimed the lives of their loved ones. Obama remembered nearly two dozen children killed three years ago in their Connecticut school. Obama said that he decided on the new curbs because guns have cut short too many American lives.
"Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad," he said, wiping a tear from his right eye. "And, by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day." This time he flicked away a tear from his left cheek.
The president was introduced by Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel, was slain in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"I'm not on the ballot again. I'm not looking to score some points," he said, adding that he does not believe that the new standards violate the Constitution: "We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people."
The new initiative would require more gun sellers to get license and conduct background checks on potential buyers. Another key provision would make it mandatory that that firearms lost in transit between a manufacturer and a seller be reported to federal authorities.
The Republicans, however, wasted no time in attacking the plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called it "President Obama's Political Gun Control Announcement." A slew of GOP presidential candidates slammed Obama. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said that Obama "has proved again why he will go down as one of the most liberal and divisive presidents in the history of our nation."