Barack Obama has made an emotional plea for his plan to increase background checks for buyers of firearms over the internet and at gun shows.

Wiping away tears that at times streamed down his face during the address in the White House East Room, the US President said current exceptions did not make sense.

“We've created a system in which dangerous people are allowed to play by a different set of rules,” he said.

Mr Obama said the new guidance is “not a plot to take away everyone's guns.”

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Obama reveals his plan to curb gun violence.

“I believe we can find ways to reduce gun violence in ways consistent with the Second Amendment.”

The president has been critical of a Congress that has steadfastly refused to introduce new gun regulations over the years, despite 84 per cent of Americans saying they support background checks for gun purchases, according to research by Quinnipiac University.

Given Congress’s intransigence, Mr Obama said he would use his executive authority to bypass the body.

At the centerpiece of Mr Obama's plan is a more sweeping definition of gun dealers that the administration hopes will expand the number of sales subject to background checks. 

The Associated Press said that under current laws, only federally licenced gun dealers must conduct background checks on buyers. But at gun shows, on websites and at flea markets, sellers can often skirt that requirement by declining to register as licensed dealers.

Mr Obama became most emotional when speaking about the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook school in the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

"Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad. And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day," he said.

"So all of us need to demand that Congress be brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby's lies.

"The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now, but they can't hold America hostage."

Mr Obama outlined new moves that would improve background checks and tighten the enforcement of rules.

“Instead of thinking how to solve the problem, this has become one of our most polarised, partisan debates,“ he said. “We do need to feel a sense of urgency about it.”

Opponents were quick to criticise the measures. Republican candidate Jeb Bush said: Frankly the protection of the second amendment keeps us safe, and keeps us strong. We should do everything we can do to enhance that right.

“Law abiding citizens that are trained to protect themselves creates a safer America There's evidence to this in every possibly way but it reeks of common sense as well.”

The NRA said in a tweet that Mr Obama's new steps would do nothing to improve gun safety.

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