Obama seeks unilateral action on gun control

Posted Jan 4, 2016 by RJ Larzo
In an effort to curb gun violence in the U.S., President Barack Obama is looking for ways to take the issue of gun control out of the hands of Congress.
US President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the briefing room at the White House in Washin...
US President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the briefing room at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 18, 2015
Nicholas Kamm, AFP
President Barack Obama announced on Friday that he is exploring unilateral avenues of action to keep guns out of the hands of “a dangerous few.”
Obama's announcement comes in the wake of a recent string of high-profile mass shootings, along with an uptick of gun violence across the country. Obama will meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to discuss possible ways of strengthening gun laws without input from a Congress that is increasingly divided over the controversial issue.
In a succinct message to gun rights advocates, Obama made clear his intent to put some distance between Congress and the powerful gun lobby by wresting control of the issue himself. Obama accused the gun lobby of wanting to make guns “effortlessly available” to anyone, during his weekly radio address. He also said that the gun lobby is loud and well-organized, and called for those Americans who are in favor of stiffer regulations to become just as organized and passionate.
Obama's platform of expanded background checks, in order to legally purchase firearms, has met with stiff opposition from those who fear that such expansion could lead to even broader measures that may eventually criminalize all gun ownership. Although Obama's proposal seems innocuous enough, it is certain to face a flurry of legal challenges, should he find a way to enact it without the endorsement of Congress.
Historically, gun rights advocates have enjoyed the support of powerful organizations such as the National Rifle Association, in addition to backing from the firearms industry. The NRA is the most powerful lobby in Washington, with huge coffers at its disposal and the ability to rally its more than 4 million members in defense of gun ownership and the Second Amendment.
The NRA has been a driving influence on the American political landscape for the past three decades. The political clout wielded by the NRA in the halls of Congress is such that both Democrats and Republicans are reluctant to stand in the way of its ambitions for fear of reprisals. Over the years, the NRA has been key in successfully blocking several pieces of gun legislation and instrumental in overturning regulations currently on the books.
For example, NRA pressure thwarted the renewal of the 1993 Assault Weapons Ban Act, when it expired in 2004 and also led the charge that killed the 2013 Assault Weapons Ban Act. However, for all its power, the NRA has seen defeat, with its most recent one occurring when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected its challenge to a local assault weapons ban in Highland Park, Illinois in Dec. 2015.