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President Obama to Take Bold Action on Gun Violence (UPDATED)

He meets with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to discuss his options.

Image via Flickr user The White House

President Barack Obama will meet with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to mull over new executive action aimed at reducing gun violence. The move comes after a spate of high-profile mass shootings, including a December terror attack in San Bernardino, California, which killed 14 and wounded 22, and a October attack at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, which left 10 people dead.

Gun industry and political insiders say Obama will present two main proposals. The first would narrow—but not close—the so-called gun-show loophole, which allows private individuals to purchase firearms from other private individuals without background checks. The “changes include requiring an expanded number of small-scale gun sellers to be licensed—and therefore conduct background checks—whenever selling a weapon,” Politico reports.

The second expected change would create stricter rules on reporting guns that are lost or stolen on their way to buyers.

The White House indicates that its legal team will not need congressional approval to make these changes.

“The president has made clear the most impactful way to address the crisis of gun violence in our country is for Congress to pass some common sense gun safety measures,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters Sunday. “But the president has also said he’s fully aware of the unfortunate political realities in this Congress. That is why he has asked his team to scrub existing legal authorities to see if there’s any additional action we can take administratively.”

On Thursday, the president will host a live, one-hour town hall meeting on gun control, to be broadcast on CNN, during which he is expected to introduce his new policies.

Obama would need the support of Congress to instate universal background checks across the country—something that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

In his weekly address Sunday, the president appeared to preview his action. “We know that we can’t stop every act of violence,” Obama said. “But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something—anything—to protect our kids from gun violence?”

Though the number of mass shootings has risen in recent years, The Washington Post reports that gun violence nearly halved between 1993 and 2013, from 7 homicides by firearm per 100,000 Americans to 3.6. Still, a report released earlier this year found that between 1966 and 2012, the United States had by far the most mass public shooters among the world’s nations: 90. In fact, the country had five times the mass public shooters of the next country on the list, the Philippines.

UPDATE: The Obama administration released its new executive actions to reduce gun violence late Monday. According to the White House, the new rules will:

  • Require all those who sell guns—whether over the Internet, in a store, or at a gun show—to be licensed and to conduct background checks.
  • Hire additional staff at the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to expedite and improve the background check process. In the future, the administration says, the FBI will process background checks 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Require firearm dealers who ship guns to notify law enforcements if their product is lost or stolen.
  • Propose a $500 million investment in the nation’s mental health care system.

“The President isn’t circumventing Congress—he is doing what is clearly in his authority to do,” White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett told CNN Tuesday in defense of the executive actions.

“Ultimately the best solution would be for Congress to act,” Jarrett said. “But the President is determined to do whatever is in his power to keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

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