Obama goes around Congress to expand background checks for guns

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President Barack Obama plans to reveal a series of executive branch initiatives this week aimed at stemming the loss of life from shootings in America.

White House officials told The Associated Press that Obama planned to tighten background checks currently in law, as well as conduct more rigorous enforcement.

According to the APthe Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will update the legal definition of what constitutes a gun dealer in an attempt to close the "gun show loophole" that allows guns to be sold at secondary markets in some states and online forums without background checks. From the New York Times:

But Mr. Obama will stop short of the kind of large-scale changes that he unsuccessfully sought from Congress three years ago. That legislation would have closed loopholes that allowed millions of guns to be sold without background checks at gun shows or in online firearm exchanges.

Instead, Mr. Obama will merely clarify that existing laws require anyone making a living from selling guns to register as a licensed gun dealer and conduct background checks. White House officials said the president would note that criminal penalties already existed for violating those laws.


The FBI also plans to hire 230 additional examiners to process the additional background checks this move would create.

In remarks to reporters Monday made before the specifics of his initiatives were announced, Obama cited the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. as part the reasons behind his reforms.

"… it’s not going to prevent every mass shooting, it’s not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal, it will potentially save lives and spare families the pain and the extraordinary loss that they’ve suffered as a consequence of a firearm getting in the hands of the wrong people," Obama said.

Obama said his hope for Congress to pass new laws regulating firearms is unlikely to happen anytime soon with a Republican-controlled legislature opposing laws that limit the Second Amendment. House Speaker Paul Ryan already took a strong stance against the president's actions in a statement released Monday.


"While we don’t yet know the details of the plan, the president is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will," Ryan said. "The American people deserve a president who will respect their constitutional rights—all of them."

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