President Barack Obama is slated today to begin his latest assault on Americans’ Second Amendment rights, with a plan to bypass Congress with unilateral executive actions on gun ownership.
And the anticipated move already has members of Congress and GOP presidential candidates fuming.
At a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and other top law enforcement officials Obama is expected to sign off on a package of proposals aimed at cracking down on gun sales.
At the top of the list is an effort to expand background checks on gun sales by forcing more sellers to register as federally licensed gun dealers. The changes would be aimed especially at those selling at gun shows, online or in informal settings.
Other moves being considered include revamping reporting of lost and stolen weapons and beefing up inspections of licensed dealers, according to a person familiar with the plans who would not be named discussing proposals before they are finalized.
Obama announced the meeting with Lynch in his weekly address from his Hawaii holiday vacation. On Thursday, he’ll take his argument to prime time, participating in a town hall discussion of gun violence on CNN. He’s slated to make his case for changes in his State of the Union address on Jan. 12.
Under current law, federally licensed firearms dealers are required to seek background checks on potential firearm purchasers. But advocacy groups say many sellers are currently exempt from having to register, increasing the chance of sales to customers prohibited by law from purchasing a gun.
The administration is expected to reclassify some of those dealers using a mix of criteria, such as the number and frequency of guns sold, whether sellers profit off sales, whether they advertise, rent space or tables at gun shows and pay taxes. White House officials have not yet disclosed the details of the proposal.
Obama’s plans immediately set off a political debate on the presidential campaign trail, both over the policy and whether the president has the authority to make it.
“This president is a petulant child,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.” ”The fact is if he wants to make changes to these laws, go to Congress and convince the Congress that they’re necessary. But this is going to be another illegal executive action which I’m sure will be rejected by the courts.”
“I don’t like changing anything,” Donald Trump said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ”Right now, they have plenty of rules and regulations.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.