President Obama says his executive order on gun control will be supported by "the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners"

By Tierney McAfee
January 04, 2016 06:05 PM
Evan Vucci/AP

President Obama announced Monday that he would be rolling out new executive actions to combat gun violence in the next few days.

“The recommendations that are being made by my team here are ones that are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and people’s lawful right to bear arms,” the president told reporters Monday afternoon after meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and other top officials in the Oval Office to discuss his options.

Obama said that, for a comprehensive solution to gun violence, “Congress needs to act.” But failing that, he added, the measures he’ll roll out this week “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 and believe.”

“Although we have to be very clear that this is not going to solve every violent crime in this country, it’s not going to prevent every mass shooting, it’s not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal, it will potentially save lives and spare families the pain and the extraordinary loss that they’ve suffered as a consequence of a firearm getting in the hands of the wrong people,” the president added.

Obama, who has made tightening America’s gun laws part of his “New Year’s resolution,” said he would officially reveal the executive actions “over the next several days,” and then open the topic for discussion on Thursday evening at a town hall meeting hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper at George Mason University.

Plans for the executive actions are not yet complete, according to CNN, but they are expected to expand background checks on gun purchases and require more gun dealers to obtain licenses.

Obama also spoke out about the “epidemic of gun violence” in the U.S. in a New Year’s Day radio address, criticizing Congress for failing to pass gun control legislation that could “protect our kids” while also vowing to take matters into his own hands.

“Because I get too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids, to sit around and do nothing,” he said in the address. “I get letters from responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time these tragedies happen.”

Obama said he asked his staff to start looking into executive action on guns several months ago. His repeated calls for greater gun control grew louder following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, where 14 people were killed at an office Christmas party last month.

Urging action at “every level of government,” Obama said at the time, “There are steps we can take to come together on a bipartisan basis at every level of government to make these rare as opposed to normal.”

Obama’s plan to take executive action on gun control has been met with outrage from the GOP hopefuls.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio promised to undo the order on his first day in office. “He is obsessed with gun control, Rubio said at a campaign stop in Raymond, New Hampshire, on Sunday. “I believe that every single American has a Constitution – and therefore God-given – right to defend themselves and their families.”

GOP front-runner Donald Trump also said he would “unsign” any executive order Obama proposes, telling supporters in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Saturday, “There’s an assault on the Second Amendment. You know Obama’s going to do an executive order and really knock the hell out of it.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on Fox News Sunday that the president “wants to act as if he is a king, as if he is a dictator.”

“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 and [that] when I become president will be stricken from executive action by executive action I’ll take.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said of Obama on Fox News Sunday, “His first impulse always is to take rights away from law-abiding citizens, and it’s wrong. And to use executive powers he doesn’t have is a pattern that is quite dangerous.”

The NRA has also vowed to fight Obama’s move, using the president’s announcement to launch a new membership drive to fight “gun-hating politicians.”

“Unless you and I stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this winner-take-all fight, it’s only a matter of time before we lose our guns, our heritage, and our freedom,” NRA chief Wayne LaPierre wrote in a new membership letter.