Washington: President Obama will meet with Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch on Monday to finalize a set of executive actions on guns that he will unveil next week, according to several individuals briefed on the matter.
White House officials declined to comment on Obama’s plans beyond releasing his weekly radio address on Friday, a day earlier than usual. But according to those familiar with the proposal, who asked for anonymity because it was not public, the president will expand new background-check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high-volume gun dealers.
The president will also use his executive authority in several other areas, these individuals said, but the overall package has not yet been finalized. In the radio address, Obama said he was moving unilaterally because Congress had failed to address the growing problem of gun violence.
“A few months ago, I directed my team at the White House to look into any new actions I can take to help reduce gun violence,” he said in the recorded address. “And on Monday, I’ll meet with our Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to discuss our options.”
“Because I get too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids, to sit around and do nothing,” Obama continued. “I get letters from responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time these tragedies happen; who share my belief that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms; and who share my belief we can protect that right while keeping an irresponsible, dangerous few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.”
Obama began examining how he could tighten the nation’s gun rules after October’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., but administration lawyers have spent months reviewing any proposals to ensure they can withstand legal scrutiny. The idea of requiring informal gun dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and perform background checks on potential buyers first came up two years ago, but was shelved over legal concerns.
The current federal statute dictates that those who are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms need to obtain a federal license – and, therefore, conduct background checks – but exempts anyone “who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.”
Gun control advocates – including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was gravely injured in a 2011 mass shooting, and former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – have met personally with Obama over the past month to push for the background checks expansion and other measures.
Any action by the president is sure to trigger a major backlash from gun rights activists, and Republican lawmakers who have blocked legislative action in the past. On Thursday, the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action launched the first in a video series attacking gun control advocates.
The first ad targets Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who revived the plan to expand background checks in the wake of the Roseburg shooting by proposing it on the campaign trail. The ad is labeled “New Year’s Resolutions of the Rich and Anti-Gun (Actually, Just Hillary Clinton),” and it shows a woman outlining her plans on Clinton’s campaign stationery beside a photo of the president and his former secretary of state as “Auld Lang Syne” blares in the background.