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Washington • Carolyn Tuft stood behind President Barack Obama on Tuesday, thinking of her daughter, Kirsten Hinckley, and how she would now be a vivacious 24-year-old had her life not been snuffed out by a gunman at Trolley Square nearly nine years ago.

Tuft, who was herself shot three times in the Feb. 12, 2007, Salt Lake City shooting rampage, says another thought came to mind as Obama announced executive actions to expand background checks on gun sales: that such screening could have saved her child.

"What he's doing would have prevented it," Tuft said. "She'd still be alive."

Whether the shooter, Sulejman Talovic, would have acquired his gun another way — he bought the 12-gauge pistol-grip shotgun at a pawnshop at age 17 — will never be known, but Tuft says it's "long overdue" for Obama to take action in light of congressional gridlock over firearm restrictions.

The White House invited victims of gun violence to join the president for his announcement, which brought a quick rebuke by Republicans, including members of Utah's federal delegation, who sniped at Obama's use of his executive authority. Previous efforts to pass comprehensive gun laws, including increased background checks, have failed in Congress in recent years.

"It's ridiculous that they think they should fight this," Tuft said outside the White House, clutching a loaned coat as she told her story to reporters. "It's common sense. It serves everybody. It's not taking away anybody's rights. It's not stepping on anybody's toes. But it's preserving life."

She said Obama's actions would no doubt save lives even if it would be hard to prove how many, and she urged critics to actually look at the president's actions and not just resort to knee-jerk reaction because it involved Obama and guns.

It may be only one step in curbing U.S. gun violence, Tuft added, but it was an important one, and something that is reasonable in the face of continued mass shootings.

"My daughter isn't here to give you her own words," Tuft said, "because hers were taken away."

GOP members of Congress blasted Obama's action, claiming he was usurping legislative power and playing politics.

"The president is out of touch. He is exploiting tragedy for political gain," said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. "His proposals would not have prevented the recent tragedies our nation has endured. His requirements will not make the country safer.

"Criminals, not the countless citizens who obey the law, should be punished for their crimes," said Bishop, a former gun-rights lobbyist. "Enforcement of our current laws is how we keep guns out of the hands of bad guys, and until this administration faces reality, no amount of pageantry will protect us."

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said it was "unfortunate" that Obama was misleading Americans by claiming to close a loophole that Lee says doesn't exist.

"People engaged in the business of selling firearms had to perform background checks on all purchasers before today," Lee said, "and they still have to perform those same background checks tomorrow."

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said his committee would continue to conduct "vigorous oversight" on this administration in light of the announcement.

"The president's actions are out of bounds and vastly exceed his executive authority," Chaffetz said in a statement. "This is yet another attempt by President Obama to bypass the American people, their elected representatives and the Constitution itself. The president's approach undermines the foundation of our democracy."

Tuft, who said she showed Obama a picture of Kirsten and hugged him, explained she is saddened to hear the rushed reaction to actions she argues impose no hardship on law-abiding gun owners.

"I just wish people out there — they don't really have all the information," she said. "They just hear [something] or see something on Facebook and instead of being up in arms and upset about it, [they should] just relax, slow down and do some research. They don't know what they're reacting to."