Obama Ready to Use Executive Powers in Final Attempt to Curb Gun Violence

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At Gun Show AR 15s Are Top Sellers After Mass School Shooting
Assault rifles for sale at a gun show in Louisiana. Photo: Julie Dermansky/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Next week, President Obama will move forward with an effort to institute new gun-control measures via executive action, according to the Washington Post and numerous other news organizations. The plan for at least a half-dozen measures, which will seek to tighten existing gun laws, still needs to be finalized with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday. The most important measure will reportedly attempt to at least partially close the “gun-show loophole” by requiring some unlicensed gun dealers — those who sell online or at gun shows but do not have a physical store — to get licenses and run background checks on buyers. A previous, similar plan to impose such restrictions on unlicensed dealers (who sell at least 50 guns annually) was abandoned a few years ago due to potential legal hurdles, but the White House decided reconsider the move following the mass shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, earlier this year, after which Hillary Clinton said she would pursue the restriction via executive action if elected president.

In his weekly radio address, delivered less than two weeks before his final State of the Union address, Obama said that he had decided to act unilaterally as a result of Congress’s unwillingness to take any action to help curb America’s gun-violence problem — something Obama has called the greatest frustration of his presidency. Up until now, the White House had kept its cards close on the plan and had not consulted any congressional Republicans, who, along with GOP presidential candidates, are virtually certain to oppose new gun restrictions of any kind — though in 2013, a bipartisan effort to expand gun-control measures following the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut could not pass the then Democratically controlled Senate, either.

As the New York Times points out, Obama’s efforts to pursue more gun control have crashed up against public opinion more than once, most recently when the president tried to link the recent San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks to the need for more gun restrictions in the U.S., though polls subsequently indicated that many Americans considered more gun ownership part of an effective defense against terrorism. Now, a month after the attack in California, the White House is once again taking up the cause, with Obama calling it his administration’s “unfinished business” as he begins the final full year of his presidency. 

Obama Planning Executive Action on Gun Violence