Vice President Joe Biden on Monday told a group of sympathetic House Democrats that the White House has identified 19 executive actions President Barack Obama can take to unilaterally act on gun control, Politico reports.
Because the Obama administration understands that enacting sweeping gun control legislation through Congress would be difficult, it has placed an emphasis on the use of executive orders to get around Congress, the elected representatives of the American people, and strengthen gun regulations.
Among the executive actions Biden is believed to have recommended to Obama are tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks, elevating gun trafficking to a felony charge and ending limits that make it harder for the federal government to research gun violence. But remember, there are reportedly 19 of them that the White House will consider.
The president’s proposals are also expected to include steps for improving school safety and mental health care, as well as recommendations for addressing violence in entertainment and video games. Pro-gun rights groups, including the NRA, have long insisted that insufficient mental health care and violent images are more to blame for mass shootings than the availability of guns.
According to Politico, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said she told Biden the White House should do as much as it can without Congress.
“I urged him to do as much by executive order as possible,” she said. “Frankly, I don’t have a lot of confidence that this Congress is going to do anything significant.”
Despite the opposition from groups like the National Rifle Association and gun owners across then nation, Obama said he would “vigorously pursue” measures to tighten gun laws.
“My starting point is not to worry about the politics,” he said.
Obama held an unscheduled press conference on Monday and declared his support for a ban on semi-automatic rifles, universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
White House officials believe moving swiftly on gun proposals at a national level, before the shock over the Newtown shooting fades, gives Obama the best chance to get his proposals through Congress. Several pro-gun rights lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, said in the days following the shooting that they were open to discussing possible control measures.
However, the assault weapons ban, which Obama has long supported, is expected to face the toughest road on Capitol Hill. Congress passed a 10-year ban on the high-grade military-style weapons in 1994, but supporters didn’t have the votes to renew it once it expired in 2004.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday predicted that a ban might win Senate approval but he doubted it could pass in the Republican-led House.
The Associated Press contributed to this report