Obama reportedly considering 19 executive actions on gun control

The President is making other plans as Harry Reid says an assault weapons won't pass the Senate

Topics: Gun Control, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, assault weapons ban, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, Newtown school shooting,

As things begin to look more dire for potential gun control legislation passing through Congress, Obama is reportedly weighing 19 different executive actions he can take to implement new gun laws.

Congressional Republicans have signalled that passing certain types of legislation won’t be easy, and the president of the NRA said over the weekend that it doesn’t think an assault weapons ban will make it through Congress. Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has his doubts, though added that there may be other laws that can pass. “Is it something that can pass the Senate? Maybe. Is it something that can pass the House? I doubt it,” Reid said in an interview. “So I think there are things that we know we can do.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said Joe Biden told lawmakers in a briefing on Monday that there are “19 independent steps that the president can take by executive order.”

From the AP:

Those steps could include ordering stricter action against people who lie on gun sale background checks, striking limits on federal research into gun use, ordering tougher penalties against gun trafficking, and giving schools flexibility to use grant money to improve safety.

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And from the New York Times:

Lawmakers and other officials said that the president could use a public event as soon as Wednesday to signal his intention to engage in the biggest Congressional fight over guns in nearly two decades, focusing on the heightened background checks and including efforts to ban assault weapons and their high-capacity clips. But given the difficulty of pushing new rules through a bitterly divided Congress, Mr. Obama will also promise to act on his own to reduce gun violence wherever possible.

Actions the president could take on his own are likely to include imposing new limits on guns imported from overseas, compelling federal agencies to improve sharing of mental health records and directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on gun violence, according to those briefed on the effort.

But even the use of executive orders won’t go down without a fight from the right: A Republican Congressman from Texas, Steve Stockman, said Monday that if the President opts for that path, he could file impeachment papers against him. Another GOPer, Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, has said that “The Founding Fathers never envisioned Executive Orders being used to restrict our Constitutional rights. We live in a republic, not a dictatorship.”

New York state, on the other hand, seems to be pushing through a broad expansion of gun control without much brouhaha, including an expansion of the ban on assault weapons and new ways of preventing mentally ill people from obtaining guns. “People who have mental health issues should not have guns,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., told reporters. “They could hurt themselves, they could hurt other people.”

From the Times:

The state Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a handful of Democrats, approved the legislative package just after 11 p.m. by a lopsided vote of 43 to 18. The Assembly, where Democrats who have been strongly supportive of gun control have an overwhelming majority, planned to vote on the measure Tuesday.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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