Obama Announces New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

President Obama announced new executive actions to reduce gun violence today, including expanded mandatory background checks, increased enforcement of gun laws, and increased funding for mental health care.

The new actions, which were released in a statement yesterday ahead of today’s official announcement, include provisions to narrow the “gun show loophole” by requiring that all people “engaged in the business of dealing in firearms,” including those at gun shows and online, obtain a license and conduct background checks on all purchases.

Currently, this requirement does not apply to those who “make occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.” But Obama’s executive action, consistent with court rulings and ATF principles, clarifies that as few as two transactions, when combined with other evidence “can be sufficient to establish that a person is “engaged in the business.””

The Administration also proposed a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health services, as well as actions to remove barriers keeping states from reporting mental health information in background checks.

The White House’s plan additionally included the announcement that Attorney General Loretta Lynch will issue a memo directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to renew efforts to coordinate with groups combating domestic violence and prevent domestic violence offenders from obtaining firearms. Research has found that women’s risk of homicide in domestic violence situations increases by 500 percent with the presence of a gun, and that more than half of women murdered with guns are killed by intimate partners or family members.

Obama, who pushed for new gun laws three years ago to no avail, acknowledged that the scope of his power is limited without the support of Congress and that the Executive Actions represent his limited ability to stem the tide of gun violence. “Once Congress gets on board with common-sense gun safety measures we can reduce gun violence a whole lot more. But we also can’t wait,” the President said during today’s speech. “There are actions within my legal authority that we can take to help reduce gun violence and save more lives -– actions that protect our rights and our kids.”

Media Resources: The New York Times 1/5/16; White House Fact Sheet 1/4/15; The National Domestic Violence Hotline Resource Guide

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