October 26, 2016

President Barack Obama to announce executive actions on gun control |Photo: Reuters

US President Barack Obama will announce a series of executive measures his administration will be taking to curb gun violence in a fresh effort during his final year in the White House.

After a preview of the announcement, Mr Obama explained why, in several tweets, executive action must be taken to reduce gun violence.

He said: “What’s often ignored in this debate is that a majority of gun owners agree with commonsense steps to save lives.

“The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage, but they can’t hold America hostage. We can’t accept this carnage in our communities.”

Mr Obama outlined the “commonsense steps” he plans to take, which are expected to be announced in more detail on Tuesday.

The main step involves closing a current loophole in the system that allows unlicensed gun shows and online dealers to sell firearms without conducting proper background checks on buyers.

He said: “We will keep guns out of the wrong hands, enforce our gun laws, and ensure those with serious mental illnesses get treatment.”

Under the current law, only federally licensed gun dealers are required to  carry out background checks on buyers, but many who sell the weapons online or at flea markets do not register as dealers.

The news has been celebrated by gun safety campaigners, who have said the loophole is exploited to dodge the background check requirement.

The main lobby group of gun control advocates, Everytown for Gun Safety, praised the upcoming announcement as a “victory”.

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who co-founded the group, said: “President Obama’s decision to clarify and enforce the law requiring more gun sellers to conduct background checks is an important victory for public safety and a setback for criminals and gun traffickers.”

The actions also include calling for 200 additional agents in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to be added to the 2017 federal budget.

While the legality of Mr Obama’s plans is still being clarified, House speaker Paul Ryan has accused the President of being “dismissive” towards the Second Amendment as well as Congress.

In a statement on Monday, he said: “While we don’t yet know the details of the plan, the President is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will.

“His proposals to restrict gun rights were debated by the United States Senate, and they were rejected. No President should be able to reverse legislative failure by executive fiat, not even incrementally.”

The Obama administration is “confident” the actions will be legal.According to the Guardian, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday: “I feel confident in telling you now that what the president does announce will be the kinds of actions in which we have the confidence that they are within the legal ability of the United States to carry out these actions.”

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