President Barack Obama says this is the country's best chance in more than a decade to take "common-sense steps" to pass laws that will save lives from gun violence.
Obama gave remarks at the White House Thursday, with parents of children recently killed in gun violence standing in the background.
"If there's a step we can take that will save just one child, just one parent, just another town from experiencing the same grief that some of the moms and dads who are here have endured, then we should be doing it. We have an obligation to try," he said.
The comments came in the wake of a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown in the eastern state of Connecticut. The 20-year-old gunman killed his mother inside their Newtown home on December 14 before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killing 20 young kids and six adults.
Obama said Thursday 90 percent of Americans support having universal background checks on people who purchase guns to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and people found to be a danger to themselves and others. He urged Americans to find out where their representatives in Congress stand, and push them to pass measures that take immediate steps toward curbing gun violence.
"We're not just going to sit back and wait until the next Newtown, or the next Blacksburg, or the next innocent, beautiful child is gunned down in a playground in Chicago or Philadelphia or Los Angeles before we summon the will to act," he said.
Congress will vote on the laws to curb gun violence in the coming weeks.