Stymied by Congress, President Barack Obama used his executive powers Thursday to advance his gun control agenda by closing a loophole in the current background check system and barring the re-importation of surplus U.S. military weapons.
Months after failing to push significant gun legislation through the Senate, Obama announced the actions as part of what the White House said would be a continuing push to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. Gun rights advocates have criticized him as overstepping by trying to use his authority to curb gun proliferation.
"Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the president and vice president remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence," a White House statement said.
The two actions were modest in scope. Currently, the White House said, felons can evade background checks by registering a weapon to a trust or corporation. A proposed regulation would require people associated with trusts or corporations to undergo background checks as if they had bought the firearms as individuals.
The second new policy will deny all requests to bring U.S. military-grade firearms sold overseas back into the United States to private entities except in rare instances, like those for museums.