In a highly emotional speech, President Obama addressed the nation to speak about the need make progress on gun control. Knowing that Congress won’t act, Obama vowed to take unilateral action on the federal level. Anti-gun groups have largely given up their attempts to lobby congress for federal regulation. Instead, the movement’s best funded organization, former NY mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown, is increasingly focusing on the state level to carry the cause forward. The president had to wipe a tear from his eye when speaking about the tragedy in Newtown, where attacker Adam Lanza killed 26 people in December 2012 , 6 adults and 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, after shooting his own mother.

While the President’s capacity to act on his own is limited, the new drive for change could revitalize the gun control debate:

“In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the ‘fierce urgency of now‘, Obama said, “because people are dying. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice. That’s why we’re here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try to prevent the next one.”

The President continued to make his case for tougher background checks :

“How did we get here? How did we get to the place where people think requiring a comprehensive background check means taking away people’s guns? Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that commonsense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying. I reject that thinking.”

Here is what he wants to do specifically:

“So let me outline what we’re going to be doing. Number one, anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks, or be subject to criminal prosecutions … We’re also expanding background checks to cover violent criminals who try to buy some of the most dangerous firearms by hiding behind trusts and corporations and various cutouts … And these steps will actually lead to a smoother process for law-abiding gun owners, a smoother process for responsible gun dealers, a stronger process for protecting the public from dangerous people.”

While determined to move forward on gun control, the President also made clear, that he did not intend on infringing on American’s Second Amendment rights:

“All of us should be able to work together to find a balance that declares the rest of our rights are also important — Second Amendment rights are important, but there are other rights that we care about as well. And we have to be able to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely — that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. And that was denied Jews in Kansas City. And that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights, too.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.”