President Obama says his executive action to control gun violence will be within his legal authority and supported by an American majority. But even before he rolls out the initiatives he’s drawing fire from the campaign trail and beyond. NJTV News Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron has been following the dispute.
He said that today the president met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey and said to the public after that that tens of thousands of killings and suicides take place by gun in this country every year:
“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 and people who are mentally unstable and those that who can pose a danger to others or themselves are less likely to get a gun. I have just received back a report from Attorney General Lynch and Director Comey as well as Deputy Director Brandon about some of the ideas and initiatives that they think can make a difference. The good news 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 American people, including gun owners, support and believe in. Over the next several days we’ll be rolling out these initiatives.”
Obama calls this a piece of unfinished business as he starts the final year of his second term. Apparently he was very frustrated after Newtown three Decembers ago that Congress would not pass universal background checks. This is a president who after the recent Oregon Community College mass shooting went on television and said our thoughts and prayers are not enough. This is clearly something that’s deeply personal for him.
The talk in the media is the expansion of background checks to those who are high volume dealers at the gun show level or online. Right now federally licensed gun dealers have to do background checks in stores, but not in gun shows. Also, expanding the number of people who have been accused on domestic violence from being able to qualify for a handgun permit.
Predictably the NRA says that none of what the president is proposing would have any effect on any of the recent mass shootings. There are Republicans in Congress who seem sympathetic, but none of the Republicans on the presidential trail have embraced this at all. In fact, they’ve all completely dismissed this as illegal and unwise. Gov. Christie on a Sunday talk show said virtually the same thing:
“This president is a petulant child. Whenever he can’t get what he wants because quite frankly the American people have rejected his agenda by turning both the House and Senate over to the Republicans and going from 21 governors when he came into office to 31 Republican governors now, now this president wants to act as if he’s a king, as if he’s a dictator. It’s as if he wants to make changed 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. When I become president they’ll be stricken from executive action by executive action I’ll take.”
Aron says he thinks the president wants to put a lot of focus on it. He brought it up in his weekly radio address which was recorded on New Year’s Day. He had a meeting at the White House about it yesterday. He met with Loretta Lynch and James Comey today. Tomorrow gun control advocates are coming to the White House for a big symposium. On Thursday he’s doing a televised town hall in the evening with Anderson Cooper on CNN for an hour on this subject alone. Then a week from tomorrow is his State of the Union address. According to Aron, by then we’ll have his formal proposals and probably renewed focus on the issue.
He says that it’s interesting that Obama’s talking about this. He could be talking about ISIS, which he was talking about two weeks ago. He could be talking about comprehensive immigration reform, or any one of a number of things, but the gun issue is what he’s chosen to start his new year on.