Local elected officials were buzzing this morning after President Barack Obama’s press conference, where he shared he would be taking executive action to increase enforcement of existing laws. Specifically, he announced his intention to dramatically decrease the number of people selling guns without a proper license, in addition to expanding background checks.
While Obama’s laws don’t go so far as to mandate a background check for every gun buyer, like his unsuccessful proposal three years ago in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut, he is directing lawmakers and agencies to do as much as they can—without the approval of Congress—to reduce the sale of guns to criminals.
U.S. representatives for Long Beach, Janice Hahn and Alan Lowenthal, applauded Obama’s action.
“Gun violence is a deadly reality that demands action and President Obama is taking it,” said Hahn in a statement. “The President’s executive actions will keep more guns out of the hands of dangerous people and save lives.”
Lowenthal tweeted his support, emphasizing the need for Congress to build on Obama’s actions.
— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) January 5, 2016
Long Beach’s Mayor Garcia echoed his support, thanking Obama for his gun control efforts.
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) January 5, 2016
According to a White House fact sheet, Obama’s executive measures include asking Congress for funding to hire 200 agents and investigators for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, despite loud Republican opposition. Additionally, Obama has pledged that the F.B.I. will increase the number of individuals who process background checks by 230 people, or 50 percent, potentially reducing delays in a system that is asked to process 63,000 background checks per day.
Other improvements include developing more modern computer systems to process background checks 24 hours per day, seven days a week and improving notifications to authorities regarding unlawful gun purchase attempts. Purchases made through a commonly-used loophole that avoid background checks when buying and selling “the most dangerous weapons” (machine guns and sawed-off shotguns) by forming corporations and trusts will now be subject to the same regulations applied to any gun seller, according to the White House brief.
The president also highlights mental health treatment and proposes allocating additional resources to increase access to mental health care.
Despite Obama’s emotional resolve (including tears shed when talking about the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings), he conceded that the creation of effective gun control laws “won’t happen overnight, it won’t happen during this Congress, it won’t happen during my presidency,” according to the New York Times.
He emphasized the need for authorities to do all they can without Congress in the meantime.
Hahn agreed with Obama. “[…] our work to prevent gun violence cannot end here and the President cannot accomplish it alone,” she said. “We in Congress must enact real, commonsense reforms that close remaining loopholes, protect victims of domestic abuse and stalking, and take assault weapons off of our streets.”