News World Obama to bypass senate with action on gun control

Obama to bypass senate with action on gun control

Obama in Oval Office 2015
Barack Obama passed laws to increase gun background checks on the mentally ill. Photo: EPA Photo: EPA
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United States President Barack Obama, frustrated by Congress’ inaction on gun control, will meet with Attorney-General Loretta Lynch on Monday to discuss ways of reducing gun violence unilaterally through measures that do not require congressional approval.

Mr Obama, in his weekly recorded address, said on Friday he had received “too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids, to sit around and do nothing.”

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“I get letters from responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time these tragedies happen,” he said.

“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.

Barack and Michelle Obama 2015
Barack and Michelle Obama at a meeting following the recent shooting in San Bernardino. AFP: Brendan Smialowski

“Change is going to take all of us. The gun lobby is loud and well organised in its defence of effortlessly available guns for anyone.

“The rest of us are going to be have to be just as passionate in our defence of our kids.”

The President is expected to expand background checks for people buying weapons from high-volume gun dealers — despite the fact guns used in mass shootings have often been legally obtained.

Other elements of the package may include requirements for dealers to report lost and stolen guns to the National Crime Information Centre, ensuring those convicted of domestic violence cannot buy guns and arresting those who attempt to buy guns illegally.

Yesterday pro-gun lobby group, the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, released a new year video attacking gun control plans.

In the ad, an actor playing presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton writes a list of new years resolutions — to “stop trying to ban guns, read the constitution and meet an actual gun owner in person” — before she screws the list up and throws it into a wastepaper basket.

Mr Obama’s plans are likely to trigger further backlash from both pro-gun activists and the Republican-controlled Congress.

‘What if Congress did something, anything, to protect our kids?’

Mr Obama has repeatedly urged Congress to tighten gun laws.

“Three years ago, a bipartisan, commonsense bill would have required background checks for virtually everyone who buys a gun,” he said in the address.
“Keep in mind there is a policy that is supported by some 90 per cent of the American people.

“It was supported by a majority of NRA households but the gun lobby mobilised against it and the senate blocked it.

“Since then tens of thousands of our fellow Americans have been mowed down by gun violence. Tens of thousands.”

The President’s calls grew louder following the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut, and again after mass shootings in Colorado Springs and San Bernardino in recent months.

“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,” Mr Obama said.

“And on Monday, I’ll meet with our Attorney-General, Loretta Lynch, to discuss our options.”

Frustrated by Congress, Mr Obama has vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to put in place gun control measures.

“We know that we can’t stop every act of violence,” Mr Obama said.

“But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something — anything — to protect our kids from gun violence?”

‘Obama aware Congress unlikely to act on gun reform’

Mr Obama’s address came as a Texas law allowing licensed firearms owners to carry handguns openly in public places took effect.

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott echoed its backers’ slogan in a Twitter comment: “Obama wants to impose more gun control. My response? COME & TAKE IT.”

Ted Alcorn, research director for gun control advocacy group Everytown, said Everytown officials met with Mr Obama in December to make recommendations for executive action.

Top among them was a regulation to clarify when gun sellers need a federal firearms license, he said.

Thousands of guns are sold yearly by dealers who fall between licensed dealers and occasional sellers who do not need a license.

Clarification could define which sellers need to meet rules and do background checks, Mr Alcorn said.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Mr Obama was aware Congress was unlikely to act on gun reform.