United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday made an emotional plea to American voters to reject pro-gun candidates in the upcoming presidential election. During an address at the White House, the 54-year-old was seen wiping back tears as he remembered children killed in a mass shooting. He had earlier announced stringent measures to tackle gun violence in the country.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said, in the presence of a large number of victims of mass shootings. He was referring to the 20 elementary school children killed three years ago in Newtown, Connecticut. Obama said the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms needed to be balanced by the right to worship, gather peacefully and live their lives.

The president said he did not expect gun laws to change during his remaining year in office, but pledged to do what he can to make gun control a theme in the months leading up to the November election to replace him, reported Reuters. Announcing his executive measures, Obama said anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks or be subject to criminal prosecutions, reported PTI.

Most of the Republican presidential candidates denounced Obama's changes, promising to reverse them if they win the election. Jeb Bush accused Obama of "trying to do an end-run" on the Constitution rather than focusing on terror threats, while Marco Rubio said the president is "obsessed with undermining the Second Amendment", which protects the right of Americans to keep and bear arms.