Emotional Obama presents plan to increase background checks on gun sales
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is making good on his pledge to politicize gun violence.
Obama's do-it-himself plan for keeping guns away from those who shouldn't have them falls far short of what he'd hoped to accomplish through legislation after a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School shook the country to attention in 2012.
At one point the president teared up when talking about the victims of mass shootings, and referenced the July 2015 shooting at a Lafayette movie theater where a gunman killed two people and injured nine others before taking his own life.
President Obama: "Second Amendment rights are important, but there are other rights that we care about as well" https://t.co/dscCFWffkU— ABC News (@ABC) January 5, 2016
Yet even the more modest steps rely on murky interpretations of existing law that could be easily reversed.
At the centerpiece of Obama's plan is a broader definition of gun dealers that must register and conduct background checks.
At gun shows, websites and flea markets, sellers often skirt that requirement by declining to register as licensed dealers. But officials said new federal guidance would clarify it applies to anyone "in the business" of selling firearms.
Obama's gun control executive actions have pushed the contentious issue to the forefront of the 2016 presidential campaign, just as candidates start the sprint to the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses. While Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on the matter, both parties see Obama's actions as an opportunity to generate enthusiasm among primary voters.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says Obama is acting unlawfully and showing disregard for the Second Amendment with his actions on gun control.
Bush is panning Obama's set of measures in an op-ed in Iowa's Cedar Rapids Gazette. He's comparing the gun actions to Obama's executive action on immigration and says Obama is flouting the proper constitutional process for lawmaking.
Bush says it's even more important to defend gun rights because of Islamic State-linked attacks and mass shootings in Paris and California.
Bush and his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination have said they'll undo Obama's actions if elected.
But in a general election, the gun debate becomes a blurrier political proposition. Public opinion polls show Americans overwhelmingly support expanding background checks for gun purchases, but are more divided on the broader question of stricter gun laws. The gun control advocacy movement has gained wealthy backers, but the National Rifle Association remains one of the more dominant forces in American politics.