The Washington Post has reported that the White House’s gun control task force will take a comprehensive approach to changing the nation’s gun laws, including examining ways the President could circumvent the legislative process using ‘executive action’ to enact policies more expeditiously.
The WP reported the commission, which is being headed by Vice President Joe Biden, has “expanded its focus to include measures that would not need congressional approval and could be quickly implemented by executive action, according to interest-group leaders who have discussed options with Biden and key Cabinet secretaries.”
What type of policy changes could be made via executive order?
Well, according to the WP, those include “changes to the federal mental-health programs and modernization of gun-tracking efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”
In the past, Obama has used his presidential powers to back ‘Demand Letter 3,’ a mandate requiring states along the U.S.-Mexico border to report to the ATF multiple sales of long guns to any one individual over a five day period.
Supposedly designed to help the ATF track straw purchasers, the measure was opposed by the NRA and other gun rights organization including the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which filed a lawsuit arguing that the President and the ATF exceeded their lawful authority under the Gun Control Act by enacting such a measure without the consent of Congress.
Last June, a federal judge sided with the President and the ATF, upholding the mandate (for more on this, click here). The NSSF appealed the ruling. Now, the case appears to be awaiting further litigation in an appeals court.
The fight over the multiple purchases mandate illustrates that the president certainly has the power to ram through gun-related polices without going through Congress. Though, moving forward into 2013, to the extent to which he chooses to use those powers remains unclear.
With respect to efforts that do require Congressional approval, the WP reported that the White House is not just interested in renewing a ban on ‘assault’ weapons and high capacity magazines, but is considering a variety of regulations including measures that would require “universal background checks, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.”
“They are very clearly committed to looking at this issue comprehensively,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who has been attending the meetings told the WP. The proposals under consideration, he added, are “a deeper exploration than just the assault-weapons ban.”
To sell such measures to lawmakers and the American people, the White House is planning on launching a PR campaign targeting groups and corporations that are typically aligned with the NRA. One source told the WP that Wal-Mart might be inclined to jump on board with gun control reform, particularly universal background checks as it may lead to more people buying guns in retail stores.
Other PR initiatives, some of which are already underway, are being spearheaded by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-gun control organization. Bloomberg, who is an influential voice in the White House discussions, has used celebrity appeal to garner public support for tougher gun laws (see his ‘Demand a Plan’ campaign).
Since Obama has set a January deadline for the task force’s recommendations, gun owners will know in the very near future what specific measures we’re up against.
Though, as Guns.com previously reported, we know that the following have already been or are about to be (re)introduced into Congress: Feinstein’s AWB, the ‘Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act’ and ‘Fix Gun Checks Act’ (for more on this click here).
Questions: Do you believe that Obama will foist unpopular gun regulations on the American people via executive action? Do you believe Congress will pass the AWB or a bill requiring universal background checks or a bill establishing a federal gun registry, etc?