President Obama has said he wants to take unilateral action to tackle the problem of gun violence in the US.
In his first weekly address of 2016, Mr Obama said he would meet Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss possible actions.
He said he would seek to use his executive powers as president because the US Congress had failed to address the problem.
Analysts say there will be a backlash from gun activists and Republicans.
But Mr Obama told Americans that he had received too many letters from parents, and teachers, and children, to sit around and do nothing.
“We know that we can’t stop every act of violence,” the president said. “But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something – anything – to protect our kids from gun violence?”
He has admitted that his inability to win Congressional backing for what he called “common sense gun laws” was the greatest frustration of his presidency.
The BBC’s Laura Bicker in Washington says the president could use his executive authority in several areas, including expanding new background check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high-volume dealers.
However he is likely to face stiff opposition to his plans, our correspondent says.
The National Rifle Association has already launched a video series attacking gun control activists.
And in Texas, a new “open carry law” will allow Texans with a permit to wear handguns on their hips in holsters – openly displaying the fact they are armed.
Last month a Texas police chief warned the president that trying to disarm Americans could spark a revolution.
Previous efforts to introduce stricter gun control laws have repeatedly foundered despite the large number of people dying in gun attacks.
A joint Democrat-Republican bill following the 2012 shooting of 20 children and six adults at a primary school in Connecticut failed to get the 60 votes needed to broaden background checks and ban assault weapons.