President Barack Obama stood in front of the world on Tuesday, wiping away tears as he discussed the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting and laid out a set of executive actions he hopes will help stave off gun violence in the United States.

Among other things, the president said he would increase federal licensing to bolster background checks and offer up new resources for agencies charged with licensing dealers and enforcing gun laws.

“Second Amendment rights are important,” Obama said. “But there are other rights that we care about as well. And we have to balance them.”

It was an unprecedented step taken by a commander-in-chief in the face of congressional opposition. But left unsaid for now is how effective this policy will prove thanks to a federal appeals court debate over a pair of 50-year-old laws limiting out-of-state handgun purchases.

A group of gun rights advocates last year successfully argued in Texas’s Northern District federal court that the so-called “handgun transfer ban,” which requires purchases from out-of-state dealers be completed in the buyer’s home state, impinges the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. A judge in February agreed, striking down the federal laws as overly burdensome and unconstitutional—a decision the government’s lawyers say undermines states’ rights to administer their own gun laws.

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