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Obama to announce expansion, enforcement of federal gun laws with executive orders Tuesday

By Doug G. Ware   |   Updated Jan. 4, 2016 at 9:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- After days of indications that President Barack Obama would soon take action to keep firearms away from people who shouldn't have them, the commander in-chief will announce executive actions focused on that purpose Tuesday, the White House said.

Obama's action will seek to expand background checks for persons trying to buy a firearm and enforce existing federal gun laws.

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"Although we have a strong tradition of gun ownership, even those who possess firearms for hunting, for self-protection and for other legitimate reasons want to make sure that the wrong people don't have them for the wrong reasons," Obama said Monday.

The primary hangup on the issue, as Obama sees it, is a loophole allowing people to buy and sell guns from unlicensed dealers at gun shows and on the Internet.

"This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country," the president said. "It's not going to prevent every mass shooting. It will, potentially, save lives in this country."

The main obstacle to Obama's plan for greater gun control has been the Republican-controlled Congress, where conservative lawmakers have so far pooled sufficient political capital to render the White House's plan dormant. Tuesday's executive actions will attempt to circumvent that obstacle, as they don't require congressional approval.

The legality of Obama's executive actions, though, is expected to be challenged by Republicans. The president, however, reiterated Monday that he is confident such action is allowable under the law.

"Too many communities across the country are still suffering from the heartbreaking consequences of a gun in the wrong hands," the White House said on its website Monday. "In the past decade, more than 100,000 people have died as a result of gun violence. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place."

"The President has a responsibility to do everything in his power to reduce gun violence. This week, he will," the administration added.

The White House said the "common sense steps" detailed in the president's plan will facilitate four main benefits: Keeping guns away from criminals, making communities safer, increased mental health treatment, and the development of gun safety technology.

Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump said he will veto Obama's orders if he is elected president.

The administration in its pitch cited numerous statistics related to gun violence -- such as an average of 30,000 people killed annually, 466 law enforcement officials killed in the last decade, and 4 million American victims of gun-related crime since 2005.

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