UPDATE: 9:15 p.m. EST — President Barack Obama had harsh words Thursday at a CNN town hall event for people alleging he wants to take guns away. He dismissed a hypothetical question from Mark Kelly, the wife of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., asking how the government would confiscate the country's 350 million firearms if it wanted to. "That is a conspiracy," Obama declared.

Obama finished up the town hall Thursday by speaking to Tre Bosley, whose brother was killed by gun violence 10 years ago in Chicago. The president noted that his personal upbringing allowed for him to be safe, and he hoped more kids could experience that scenario through his executive orders.

"This is not a proposal to solve every problem," Obama said. "It's a modest way of us getting started of improving prospects of young men and young women like you."



UPDATE: 8:50 p.m. EST — After CNN played a clip of him crying during a Tuesday news conference on gun control, President Barack Obama said at a Thursday town hall he thought "tears were appropriate." He mentioned another emotional time — when he visited Newtown, Connecticut, days after a mass shooting at an elementary school there in 2012.

"It's the only time I've ever seen the Secret Service cry on duty," he said, adding that he also felt for soldiers returning from duty and the families of law enforcement officers.

UPDATE: 8:35 p.m. EST — President Barack Obama's first question Thursday night at a CNN town hall on guns came from the wife of "American Sniper." The second was from Kimberly Corban, a rape victim and mother of two who said she felt she needed guns to protect her children.

Obama responded that "nothing we propose that would make it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one." He then noted that concealed carry laws are usually decided state by state.

UPDATE: 8:25 p.m. EST — President Barack Obama called out the National Rifle Association's absence from a town hall meeting on gun control Thursday night on CNN. Obama said he's tried to reach out to the organization but hasn't been successful.

"Since this is the main reason they exist, you'd think they'd be prepared to have a debate with the president," Obama told CNN moderator Anderson Cooper. "I'm happy to meet with them. I'm happy to talk to them. But the conversation has to be based on facts and truth and what we're actually proposing, not some imaginary fiction in which Obama's trying to take away your guns."

UPDATE: 8:10 p.m. EST — CNN moderator Anderson Cooper kicked off a town hall on gun control with President Barack Obama Wednesday night by noting that 30,000 people are killed by firearms yearly. Obama quickly dove into the issue at hand, referencing his Tuesday executive actions and talking about the need for regulation.

"I respect people who want a gun for self-protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship, but all of us can agree that it makes sense to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of people who are trying to do others harm," Obama said.

Original story:

President Barack Obama was set to speak Thursday night at a CNN town hall event to debate gun control. Called "Guns in America," the one-hour meeting was considered Obama's chance to pitch his recent executive orders limiting gun access to the American public. It started at 8 p.m. EST at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

"I think the president, frankly, is looking forward to talking to people on both sides of this issue," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. "I think the president will repeat once again his belief in and commitment to the Second Amendment to the Constitution, and that the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans are worth protecting, including the constitutional rights that are guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution."

Obama wiped away tears Tuesday as he unveiled his plan to use presidential authority to curb access to guns in the United States. He said he intended to increase access to mental health care, expand background checks and improve technology on the firearms themselves.

“Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying," Obama said, according to the New York Times. "I reject that thinking. We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence.”

The National Rifle Association declined to participate in Thursday night's town hall, instead launching a petition that alleged Obama hoped to erode Americans' Second Amendment rights. “The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts,” lobbyist Chris W. Cox told the Times.