Obama offers new gun control actions
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration announced new steps Thursday on gun control, curbing the import of military surplus weapons and proposing to close a loophole that lets felons and others circumvent background checks by registering guns to corporations.
The administration has failed to find support in Congress for stronger gun control proposals it made this year. The issue became a top one for President Barack Obama after a gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at a Connecticut school in December.
Obama has added two more executive actions to a list of 23 steps the White House determined Obama could take on his own to reduce gun violence. The executive actions don’t require approval from Congress.
Vice President Joe Biden unveiled the new actions Thursday at the White House and said Obama will keep pushing for broader gun control legislation.
One new policy will end a government practice that lets military weapons, sold or donated by the U.S. to allies, be reimported into the U.S. by private entities, where some may end up on the streets. The White House said the U.S. has approved 250,000 of those guns to be reimported since 2005. Under the new policy, only museums and a few other entities like the government will be eligible to reimport military-grade firearms.
The Obama administration is also proposing a federal rule to stop those who would be ineligible to pass a background check from getting around the law by registering a gun to a corporation or trust. The new rule would require people associated with those entities, like beneficiaries and trustees, to undergo the same type of fingerprint-based background checks as individuals if they want to register guns.
Still out of reach for Obama are the steps that gun control advocates and the administration say could most effectively combat gun violence in the U.S., such as an assault weapons ban and fewer exceptions for background checks for individual sales. Only Congress can act on those steps.
Efforts to address those issues died in the Senate amid opposition from the National Rifle Association gun lobby and most Republican senators.
These days, Obama mentions gun control far less often. And with immigration and pressing fiscal issues dominating Congress’ agenda, the prospects for reviving gun legislation appear negligible.
The NRA dismissed the administration’s latest moves Thursday as misdirected.
“Requiring background checks for corporations and trusts does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals,” the group’s Andrew Arulanandam said. “Prohibiting the re-importation of firearms into the U.S. that were manufactured 50 or more years ago does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. This administration should get serious about prosecuting violent criminals who misuse guns and stop focusing its efforts on law-abiding gun owners.”
Biden also swore in Todd Jones, whose confirmation to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after six years of political fighting to fill that position was another of Obama’s priorities after the December shooting.
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed.