Obama Tightens Gun Rules, Requires More Background Checks

White House unveiled gun control measures that require gun sellers to get licenses and buyers to undergo checks.

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Barack Obama on Monday, 4 January 2016, finalised a set of new executive actions tightening the nation’s gun laws. (Photo: AP)

The White House unveiled gun control measures on Monday that require more gun sellers to get licenses and more gun buyers to undergo background checks. President Barack Obama said these moves were well within his authority to implement without Congressional approval.

The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives now will require that people who sell guns at stores, at gun shows or over the Internet be licensed and conduct checks, officials said. The ATF was finalising a rule requiring background checks for buyers of dangerous weapons from a trust, corporation or other legal entity as well.

Obama, speaking to reporters before the measures were made public, said they were consistent with the US Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects the right to bear arms.

President Barack Obama meets with top law enforcement officials in the White House to discuss executive actions that can be taken to curb gun violence. (Photo: AP)
President Barack Obama meets with top law enforcement officials in the White House to discuss executive actions that can be taken to curb gun violence. (Photo: AP)

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.

Obama during a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other advisers

Obama is igniting a political firestorm by bypassing Congress with the measures, which could spark legal challenges. Republicans say Obama is misusing his powers.

Shares in gun makers Smith & Wesson Holding Corp and Sturm Ruger & Co rose against a falling stock market on Monday in anticipation of increased gun sales, as has happened before when the White House mulled weapon sales reform.

Stymied by Congress’ inaction on gun control, the president asked his advisers in recent months to examine new ways he could use his executive authority to tighten gun rules unilaterally after multiple mass shootings generated outrage nationwide.

David Foley, center, looks as a handgun while shopping at the Spring Guns and Ammo store Monday, 4 January 2016, in Spring, Texas. (Photo: AP)
David Foley, center, looks as a handgun while shopping at the Spring Guns and Ammo store Monday, 4 January 2016, in Spring, Texas. (Photo: AP)

The White House had drafted a proposal on licenses previously but was concerned it could be challenged in court and hard to enforce.

The National Rifle Association, the top US gun rights group, is feared and respected in Washington for its ability to mobilise gun owners. Congress has not approved major gun-control legislation since the 1990s.

Obama said the measures would not prevent every mass shooting or violent crime, but they did have the potential to save lives. The president is scheduled to give remarks about gun control at 11:40 a.m. EST (1640 GMT) on Tuesday.

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