WASHINGTON (CBSDFW/CBS NEWS) -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged the country and congress to tackle gun violence with more urgency, saying that executive actions won't undo the last mass shooting but can help stop the next one.
"We do have to feel a sense of urgency about it," the president said. "People are dying and the constant excuses for inaction no longer do."
In an emotional speech that lasted nearly 40 minutes, the president several times invoked mass shootings that have taken place in the last two decades, with special attention to the "too many" that had led him to address the nation during his presidency.
The executive actions he outlined are aimed at expanding background checks during gun sales (including sales at gun shows and online), beef up enforcement of existing gun laws, try to improve care for the mentally ill and information-sharing to prevent them from buying guns, and boost gun safety technology.
Some lawmakers question whether the President's actions -- which some say side-step congress -- will ultimately withstand legal challenges.
Several Texas politicians were quick to respond to the President's call for change, and his speech, which was at times aimed at Republican lawmakers and the National Rife Association, who he blamed for consistently blocking legislation he said would have made Americans safer.
"Like the rest of the nation I am saddened by the horrific acts of mass violence that have struck our communities, but the measures announced today threaten our constitutional rights and would not solve the problem" read a statement from U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).
"An unwillingness to find common ground and achieve compromise has been a hallmark of this President's tenure, and this issue is unfortunately no different. Rather than unilaterally impose a gun control agenda that's unlawful and strips the constitutional rights of elderly Americans, the President should better enforce current law and work with Congress on legislation reforming our mental health system."
"President Obama's proposal to unilaterally thwart law abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights is a blatant abuse of his executive authority" said lifelong NRA member U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX-32) in a prepared statement. "He has chosen to completely circumvent the legislative process, ignore the Constitution, and infringe upon the rights granted to each and every citizen of the United States by the Second Amendment. This is a misguided and unconstitutional power grab, and I will not stand for it."
"Texas Democrats applaud President Obama for taking these common-sense steps to make our communities safer. The goal is simple: keep guns out of dangerous hands" said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa.
"We can all agree on these three simple things: firearm purchases should require a thorough background check, people that can be a harm to themselves or others should not be able to easily access a weapon, and research on gun safety technology that prevents deaths ought to be implemented."
"The Bill of Rights was added as a specific safeguard to prevent the federal government from denying Americans those guaranteed rights," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. "Today, the President trampled the purpose and substance of the Bill of Rights by unilaterally imposing Second Amendment restrictions. After failing to pass gun control measures through Congress, the President is yet again resorting to unilateral executive action in place of the democratic process. Despite the President's latest attempt to undermine our liberty, Texas will take every action to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."
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