President Barack Obama moved yesterday to extend background checks to include more firearms sold at gun shows, online and anywhere else. The measure is aimed at curbing gun violence but opponents do not want any new laws in Congress.
Obama's plan for expansion of background checks is seen as the centrepiece of a broader package of gun control measures the president plans to introduce on his own in his final year in office. Although Obama cannot on his own change gun laws, the president hopes to beef up enforcement of existing laws to prevent at least some gun deaths.
"This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country," Obama said.
Still, he added, "It will potentially save lives and spare families the pain of these extraordinary losses."
Under current law federally licensed gun dealers need to conduct background checks on buyers, but many who sell guns at flea markets, on websites or in other informal settings do not register as dealers.
According to gun control advocates, the loophole is exploited to get around the background check requirement.
The justice department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will now issue updated guidance under which the government should deem anyone "in the business" of selling guns to be a dealer, regardless of where he or she sells the guns.
Meanwhile, even as an armed group staged a protest at a federal building in Oregon, Obama said he would roll out his executive gun control plan today. He added the measures would be ''entirely consistent with the Second Amendment.''
''We want to make sure the wrong persons don't have them for the wrong reasons,'' Obama added.
The president offered reporters few specifics, but the White House said later, the measures include background checks for guns bought from dealers online and at gun shows.
The plan also proposed other steps. The FBI would hire over 230 additional examiners and other for processing background checks 24 hours a day.
Provisions will also be made under the president's fiscal 2017 budget to include funding for 200 new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and investigators to help enforce gun laws.