Despite roadblocks from Congress on sweeping gun control legislation, the Obama administration has followed through on its promise to take independent executive action where possible, announcing Thursday it would close a loophole that was allowing military firearms back into the country.
While swearing in B. Todd Joes as the first head permanent head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in seven years, Vice President Joe Biden announced new rules that would "trusts or corporations" to pass a background check before buying machine guns and short-barreled shot guns.
The ATF said last year it received nearly 40,000 such requests from individuals aiming to circumvent background checks.
Another executive action would aim to keep U.S. military weapons sold to foreign governments from being resold to individuals in the U.S. Such transactions have authorized the return of 250,000 formerly military weapons to individuals since 2005.
Under the new rule, exceptions would only be allowed to museums and similar displays.
"We're ending the practice," said Biden, who has been tasked with reducing gun violence since the December 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "The new policy is going to help keep military-grade firearms off our streets."
"The president and I remain committed to getting these things done," Biden said. "If Congress won't act, we'll fight for a new Congress. It's that simple. But we're going to get this done."