Feeling the “Fierce Urgency of Now.”

Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. It wasn’t the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last. Fort Hood. Binghamton. Aurora. Oak Creek. Newtown. The Navy Yard. Santa Barbara. Charleston. San Bernardino. Too many. –President Barack Obama

Our country will celebrate Martin Luther King Day, this year on January 18. We speak–almost ritually–about his “I Have a Dream” speech, and his exhortations about the importance of the content of our characters.

But we need to remember Dr. King’s quote about feeling the “fierce urgency of now” about a few issues. Gun safety is one of them.

Few issues elicit such powerful emotion from President Obama like gun safety issues. Little wonder: More than 100,000 Americans are shot each year, and more than 18,000 of them are minors.

Since Congress won’t act to enact sensible gun safety legislation, the President is acting where he can.

View the speech below or read the transcript.

Courtesy PBSNewsHour

… 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. (Applause.) And that was denied Jews in Kansas City. And that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. (Applause.) They had rights, too. (Applause.)

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.

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