On Tuesday, President Obama shed tears as he spoke about the innocent lives lost to gun violence in Newtown, Connecticut, during his highly emotional address to America on gun control. His emotions were both candid and transparent, showing how immensely he has been affected by the personal stories of the victims of gun violence sitting in the audience. At the beginning of his 30-minute speech, the president noted, "Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns." To him, this isn't simply a number; it should prompt critical and immediate response. "We do have to feel a sense of urgency about it," Obama stated. "In Dr. King's words, we need to feel the fierce urgency of now."
The address to the nation began on an emotionally-charged note, as Mark Barden, the father of a first-grade victim in the Sandy Hook school shooting, introduced the president vice president to the stage. Former congresswoman and gun safety advocate Gabby Giffords, who was shot five years ago, was also present in the audience, which was full of gun violence victims and their families. Obama called her out, saying, "Thanks to a great medical team, and the love of her husband Mark, my good friend Gabby Giffords survived." She received a standing ovation. The president addressed the heavy yet hopeful atmosphere directly as he gazed out at the individuals in the audience and considered their stories of loss. "This room, right here, there are a lot of stories. And a lot of heartache. There's a lot of resilience, a lot of strength, but there's also a lot of pain. And this is just a small sample."
As Obama suggested, a high level of emotion makes the reality of gun violence in America exceedingly poignant, transforming it from a political issue into a human one that every person should consider. Mark Barden isn't simply a man who lost money or time because of a political move. He lost his son, and Obama wanted to make this point clear to America, leaving little room for opponents to conjure ulterior motives behind his new executive measures.
Amidst the grief, Obama went on to describe the way Americans are at risk of becoming numb to violence because of the frequency at which it occurs. He disapproves of the way it has become a topic over which politicians bicker incessantly, and urges citizens to simply consider the lives that could be saved in the future.