Date
25 May 2017
Gun control activists rally in front of the White House in Washington on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Gun control activists rally in front of the White House in Washington on Monday. Photo: Reuters

US tightens gun control, requires more background checks

The White House unveiled gun control measures that require more gun sellers to get licenses and more gun buyers to undergo background checks.

President Barack Obama said the measures were well within his authority to implement without congressional approval, Reuters reported.

The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives now will require that people who sell guns at stores, at gun shows or over the internet be licensed and conduct checks, officials said.

The ATF is finalizing a rule requiring background checks for buyers of dangerous weapons from a trust, corporation or other legal entity as well.

Obama, speaking to reporters before the measures were made public, said they were consistent with the US Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects the right to bear arms.

“These are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they’re also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support,” Obama said during a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other advisers.

Obama is igniting a political firestorm by bypassing Congress with the measures, which could spark legal challenges, the news agency said. Republicans say Obama is misusing his powers.

Shares in gun makers Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. rose against a falling stock market on Monday in anticipation of increased gun sales, as has happened before when the White House mulled weapon sales reform.

Stymied by Congress’ inaction on gun control, the president asked his advisers in recent months to examine new ways he could use his executive authority to tighten gun rules unilaterally after multiple mass shootings generated outrage nationwide.

The White House had drafted a proposal on licenses previously but was concerned it could be challenged in court and hard to enforce.

Guns are a potent issue in US politics.

The National Rifle Association, the top US gun rights group, is feared and respected in Washington for its ability to mobilize gun owners. Congress has not approved major gun-control legislation since the 1990s.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the administration did not have an estimate of the number of people who would be affected by the changes.

Obama said the measures would not prevent every mass shooting or violent crime, but they did have the potential to save lives.

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