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Gun control issue muzzled in '14 SOTU compared to last year

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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014.REUTERS/Larry Downing

One year after using the State of the Union address to make an impassioned plea for gun control, President Obama took a more muted approach to the subject, vowing to press forward whether Congress liked it or not.

But with Obama's gun control agenda considered all but dead on Capitol Hill, Obama made his declaration without the impact of guests who lost loved ones in high-profile shootings, as he had a year earlier, and he devoted considerably less time to the subject.

"Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day,” Obama said during the Tuesday night address. “I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say 'We are not afraid,' and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook."

In last year’s address, in which the victims of gun violence including those from Newtown, Conn. were invited as guests and touted front and center, Obama ended his speech with a stirring call to action to end gun violence and mentioned guns seven times throughout. The most dramatic underscoring of his call for gun control this year was the presence of Atlanta school administrator Antoinette Tuff, who stopped a campus shooting by talking to the gunman and calming him down until he turned himself in.

Despite less focus in his speech this year, gun control advocates said Obama is solidly on their side.

“We appreciated those words, and they are not hollow,” Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said to FoxNews.com. “No one has worked harder than this White House to enact meaningful changes to preserve lives being lost to the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”

“The Obama administration issued a new series of executive orders just this month to prevent dangerously mentally ill individuals from obtaining firearms,” he added, pointing out that the orders follow on a package of 23 executive orders the president issued in January 2013 after the Newtown massacre.

Some reports suggest that it was an acknowledgement from Obama that Congress is resistant to revisit the gun control issue and that any changes in policy will have to be handled on the executive level. Obama signed a measure this month would strengthen background checks on gun purchasers, especially those with mental health issues.

Despite gun control not being front and center on Tuesday, pro-gun advocates feel they are still being targeted by the current administration.

“President Obama could have gotten mental health reform last year. He could have backed legislative proposals supported by the NRA.,” Catherine Mortensen, a spokeswoman for the NRA, told FoxNews.com. “He chose not to, and instead made a conscious decision to go after gun control and trampled on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”