WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama is moving ahead on plans to require background checks for guns purchased from dealers even if they’re bought online or at gun shows.
The White House is coming out with a series of long-awaited executive steps aimed at curbing gun violence despite opposition in Congress to new gun laws.
The Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is issuing updated guidance that says the government can consider someone a gun dealer regardless of where the guns are sold. The guidance aims to narrow the gun show loophole. Only federally licensed gun dealers must now conduct background checks on buyers.
The White House says the FBI will hire 230 more examiners to process background checks. It’s an attempt to speed up the process so buyers don’t fall through the cracks.
On Monday, Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss options for tougher gun restrictions.
The president released this statement after the meeting:
Before the New Year, I mentioned that I had given the charge to my Attorney General, FBI Director, Deputy Director at the ATF, and personnel at my White House to work together to see what more we could do to prevent a scourge of gun violence in this country.I think everybody here is all too familiar with the statistics. We have tens of thousands of people every single year who are killed by guns. We have suicides that are committed by firearms at a rate that far exceeds other countries. We have a frequency of mass shootings that far exceeds other countries in frequency.And although it is my strong belief that for us to get our complete arm around the problem Congress needs to act, what I asked my team to do is to see what more we could do to strengthen our enforcement and prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands to make sure that criminals, people who are mentally unstable, those who could pose a danger to themselves or others are less likely to get them.And I’ve just received back a report from Attorney General Lynch, Director Comey, as well as Deputy Director Brandon about some of the ideas and initiatives that they think can make a difference. And the good news is, is that these are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they’re also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support and believe.So over the next several days, we’ll be rolling out these initiatives. We’ll be making sure that people have a very clear understanding of what can make a difference and what we can do. And although we have to be very clear that this is not going to solve every violent crime in this country, 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.I’m also confident that the recommendations that are being made by my team here are ones that are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and people’s lawful right to bear arms. And we’ve been very careful recognizing that, although we have a strong tradition of gun ownership in this country, that even though it’s who possess firearms for hunting, for self-protection, and for other legitimate reasons, I want to make sure that the wrong people don’t have them for the wrong reasons.So I want to say how much I appreciate the outstanding work that the team has done. Many of you worked over the holidays to get this set of recommendations to me. And I’m looking forward to speaking to the American people over the next several days in more detail about it.
On Tuesday, the President will discuss his expected executive actions to the press in the East Room, and on Thursday, Obama will join CNN’s Anderson Cooper for a one-hour, live town hall event on the issue.
The planned actions come ahead of Obama’s annual State of the Union Address, which is scheduled for Tuesday, January 12.