WASHINGTON (AP/KMOX) – A visibly emotional President Barack Obama, at one point wiping tears from his cheek, unveiled his plan Tuesday to tighten control and enforcement of firearms in the U.S., using his presidential powers in the absence of legal changes he implored Congress to pass.

Obama accused the gun lobby of taking Congress hostage, but said “they cannot hold America hostage.” He insisted it was possible to uphold the Second Amendment while doing something to tackle the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. that he said had become “the new normal.”

“This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns,” Obama said in a ceremony in the East Room. “You pass a background check, you purchase a firearm. The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules.”

Obama wiped tears away as he recalled the 20 first-graders killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He paid tribute to the parents, some of whom gathered for the ceremony, who he said had never imagined their child’s life would be cut short by a bullet.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said.

Local reaction

St. Louis Democratic Congressman Lacy Clay applauds the president’s executive actions, saying, “The President acted because even after multiple gun violence tragedies like Sandy Hook, Charleston and San Bernardino; Republicans in Congress still refuse to allow a vote on something as obvious as mandatory background checks for all gun sales, which 85 percent of the American people support.”

But, Obama’s executive order on guns is being called “unconstitutional” by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

“Clearly, there’s nowhere in the Constitution that says, if the Congress fails to act, if democracy doesn’t produces the result the president wants, then the president can produce whatever result he wants to produce,” he says.

Blunt says executive orders and executive “over-reach” will be a big issue in the presidential campaign.

Illinois Republican Congressman John Shimkus, who says he has a lifetime “A” rating from the NRA, says the proposed executive actions on guns is meant to “punish and scare the millions of law-abiding gun owners he says the Obama Administration despises.”

Shimkus says the president’s actions will not hold up in court.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) released the following statement after Obama’s announced proposed executive actions on guns:

“Time and time again this president has shown a blatant disregard for our nation’s Constitution and unfortunately these latest actions are no different,” said Davis. “I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and will continue to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights. We have a mental health crisis in this country that cannot be ignored and I hope the president will join Congress in trying to reform the system and address these issues legally and through our legislative process.”

Illinois Republican Congressman Mike Bost calls the president’s sanctions “not only legally dubious,” but says they “impose substantial burdens on law-abiding citizens while doing little to nothing to stop criminals.”

“As a father and grandfather, I’ve shared in the heartbreak we all feel when news breaks of another tragedy. That being said, if the president was serious about stopping the criminal use of firearms, he would more rigorously enforce existing laws rather than sidestepping Congressional authority and trying to make the laws himself.”

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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