GOP firmly opposed
White House officials.
Another measure will require federally licensed gun dealers to report any lost and stolen guns to the National Crime Information Center.
Over the past five years, according to the White House, an average of 1,333 guns recovered in criminal investigations each year were traced back to a seller who claimed it was missing but did not report it to authorities.
“This is a broad set of actions that tackles a variety of the issues related to gun violence,” said Arkadi Gerney, a senior fellow at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, “and in combination it represents a comprehensive effort to strengthen the laws we already have on the books.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, RWis., by contrast, issued a statement Monday that said even without knowing the plan’s exact details, “the president is at minimum subverting the legislative branch and potentially overturning its will. … This is a dangerous level of executive overreach, and the country will not stand for it.”
Although the number of mass shootings in the United States has risen in recent years, overall gun violence is at lower levels than in previous decades.
Obama, however, emphasized that gun deaths in the U.S. remain higher than in other developed countries in almost every category, including suicides.
His administration failed to persuade lawmakers to approve tighter legislative controls on gun sales in 2013, in the wake of the December 2012 killings of 20 elementary school students in Newtown, Conn.
After that, the president issued a series of 23 executive actions to tighten controls and increase safety preparations, and he added two more in subsequent years.
But the White House was moved to act again last year after the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Administration lawyers have spent months reviewing various proposals to ensure redefining what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms can withstand legal challenges.
“The law has long been fuzzy, and the transition of gun sales away from brick-and-mortar stores to gun shows and the Internet requires the administration to clarify the definition,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who has urged Obama to act on his own. “By forcing more dealers at gun shows to run background checks, there will be less criminals that buy guns and less illegal guns sold on the streets of America.”
Televised town hall
Obama is scheduled to talk about his new policies in the East Room on Tuesday and will participate in a televised town hall at George Mason University two days later, which will be televised on CNN.
Asked whether the White House was concerned that Republicans or gun-rights advocates would challenge Obama’s actions, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if they try, but the arguments we could mobilize in a court of law would be powerful and persuasive.”
Even before the unveiling of the package, nearly a half-dozen Republican presidential candidates have gone on the attack.
Every candidate who has spoken about the proposal has vowed to reverse the executive order if elected president, underscoring the fragility of any initiative that has not won congressional approval.
Speaking at a Christian bookstore Monday in Boone, Iowa, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the idea “illegal and unconstitutional,” a theme echoed by several of his colleagues in recent days.
On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told an audience in Raymond, N.H., that Obama “has waged war on the Constitution.”
“You can pass all the gun laws in the world that you want,” he said. “It will not stop the criminals.”