President Barack Obama formally unveiled new executive actions on Tuesday aimed at expanding background checks and strengthening existing federal gun control laws in America.
“I want to be absolutely clear at the start, I believe in the second amendment,” he said. “It’s there written on the paper—it guarantees the right to bear arms. No matter how many times people try to twist my words around—I taught constitutional law, I know a little about this. But I also believe we can find ways to reduce violence consistent with the second amendment.”
“I’m not on the ballot again,” Obama added. “I’m not looking to score some points.”
The president made the announcement flanked by Vice President Joe Biden as well as victims and family members affected by gun violence. Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot during a political event outside a supermarket in 2011, was also in the room.
The press conference comes a day after the White House released a memo outlining the president’s proposal to reduce gun violence without Congress—a move that has prompted swift backlash from Republican presidential candidates:
Our founding fathers said congress would write the laws. I’ll fight Obama’s executive orders tooth and nail! – RP pic.twitter.com/lY9brlbw31
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 5, 2016
“Let’s be specific: the president is not circumventing Congress,” White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said on Tuesday, ahead of Obama’s press conference. “They have made it very clear they are not going to act and the president is doing what is well within his executive authority to do so.”
The president also met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to confirm his plan was constitutionally legal.
In the aftermath of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the president’s initiative to pass a gun reform package was ultimately blocked by a Democratic-controlled Senate. Obama has previously called Congress’ failure to act on the issue the “biggest frustration” of his presidency.
“Every time I think about those kids, it makes me mad,” Obama said on Tuesday, wiping away tears.
For a detailed look at the president’s plan, head to our explainer here.