President Obama will target gun violence through executive actions that he will detail in the coming days, he announced Monday as he met with top law enforcement officials at the White House.
The President is reportedly focusing on a loophole that has allowed for some gun sales to occur without background checks, though he did not give details in his brief remarks after sitting down with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI director James Comey and ATF deputy director Thomas Brandon.
Obama said he’d received a report from the officials that included recommendations on the steps their offices can take to combat gun violence. “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,” he said.
Polls on the issue have varied. A CNN/ORC poll released shortly after the mass shooting at a community college in Oregon in the fall found that the majority of Americans (52%) opposed stricter gun control measures, while 46% supported them. But a Reuters poll, also in the fall of 2015, found that 65% of respondents thought it was important for gun control to be addressed.
The President said that while the changes won’t solve all of America’s issues with gun control, he believes the soon-to-be-announced measures will “potentially save lives and spare families” from pain. He said the recommendations do not violate the Second Amendment, something Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump flagged as a potential problem in a recent interview.
Obama is kicking off his final year in office by focusing on gun control, an issue he’s struggled to make traction on while in office. Despite Obama’s efforts, Congress has not taken steps to tighten gun control in the wake of mass shootings. And even before Obama has publicly detailed his executive actions, they are already facing backlash from Republicans on the campaign trail and in Congress who have criticized the President’s use of his executive authority to address the issue.
“The President is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will,”said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) in a statement.