Sunday, November 19, 2017
Politics

Obama to impose new gun control curbs next week

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HONOLULU — President Barack Obama will press ahead with a set of executive actions on guns next week despite growing concerns in the United States over terrorism that have dampened some Americans' enthusiasm for tighter firearms restrictions.

The Washington Post, speaking with several individuals familiar with the president's plans, reported that Obama will meet Monday with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to finalize a series of new gun control measures and will announce his package of proposals soon after. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan is not yet public.

One of the main proposals Obama is poised to adopt would require some unlicensed gun dealers to get licenses and conduct background checks on potential buyers. The change is aimed at informal dealers, such as those who sell online frequently or rent tables at gun shows but do not have a storefront.

Obama began examining how he could tighten the nation's gun rules after October's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. Administration lawyers have spent months reviewing various proposals to make sure they can withstand legal challenges.

The idea of requiring informal gun dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and of conducting background checks came up two years ago when White House officials drafted a proposal for dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually.

The idea was shelved because of legal concerns but gained new momentum after the Roseburg shooting. At that point, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she would pursue such a requirement by executive action if elected. Administration officials gave the proposal another look and determined it could be done in a way that was legally defensible.

The White House review has been conducted in relative secrecy, soliciting input from gun safety groups without specifying which policies the administration might ultimately adopt. In the past month, Obama has met with former representative Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, who was gravely injured in a 2011 mass shooting, and her husband, Mark Kelly.

In Obama's weekly radio address, released a day earlier than usual, the president 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. "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."

In reviewing its options, the administration has shut out congressional Republicans, who joined with some Democrats in helping block legislation to expand background checks after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"The administration has not communicated with us, and we have not been briefed," Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.,, said in an email. "We will consider options once we have information, but what seems apparent is none of these ideas would have prevented the recent atrocities. Our focus should be on the consistent causes of these acts — mental illnesses and terrorism — rather than infringing on law-abiding Americans' constitutional rights."

While most Republican presidential candidates did not provide immediate reaction to Obama's announcement, they are expected to talk about it in the coming days. Former Gov. Jeb Bush is scheduled to attend a gun show in Florida Monday, where he will discuss the high marks he has received from the National Rifle Association.

Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that "President Obama is trying to distract Americans from his failure to address the true threat of radical Islamic terrorism, and instead going after the rights of law-abiding American citizens — it is complete lunacy. If Ted Cruz is elected president, the lawlessness will end on Day One, and Americans' personal liberties will be restored and protected."

The administration has been weighing many proposals, including requiring federally licensed gun dealers to report any lost and stolen guns to the National Crime Information Center; providing guidance on restricting dangerous individuals from carrying guns within a specified distance of a school; clarifying that convicted abusers are prohibited from having guns regardless of their marital status; and instructing federal law enforcement to identify and arrest criminals who attempt to buy illegal guns.

The final package will contain at least half a dozen measures, and possibly more, people who have been briefed on the proposal told the Washington Post.

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