In response to the latest mass shooting, President Obama may circumvent Congress with his executive authority and impose new background-check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high-volume gun dealers, reports the Washington Post. Under the proposed change, dealers who exceed a certain number of sales each year would be required to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and perform background checks on potential buyers. As Obama heads today to Roseburg, Or., to comfort the survivors and families of those killed in last week's shooting at Umpqua Community College, the political calculus around his most vexing domestic policy issue is shifting.
Obama took 23 executive actions after the 2012 Newtown, Ct., school shooting, but after last week’s Oregon episode, he asked aides “to scrub what kinds of authorities do we have to enforce the laws that we have in place more effectively to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.” Before the Oregon shooting, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and her husband, Mark Kelly, were at the White House to urge the background-check enhancement. White House officials drafted a proposal in 2013 to apply to dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually, after Congress had rejected legislation that would have expanded background checks more broadly to private sellers. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms objected that it would be hard to enforce and that it was unclear how many sellers would be affected by the change. National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said any change was unnecessary and could “ensnare” people not intended to be covered by the law, such as a widow selling off her late husband's gun collection. “People who repeatedly sell large volumes of firearms are already covered in the current statute because they are already defined as 'engaged in the business,' ” she said.