Executive Branch

Obama executive action will define who qualifies as a gun dealer required to do background checks

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President Obama at a podium

President Barack Obama. Image from Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com.

Updated: After failing to persuade Congress to require background checks for all gun purchases, President Barack Obama has announced that he will take executive action that would classify more gun sellers as gun dealers who must conduct such checks.

Obama announced his plans on Tuesday in an emotional press conference, CNN and USA Today report. The New York Times and the Washington Post had advance stories on his proposals.

Obama wiped away tears as he referred to the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012 that killed 20 elementary school students. “First graders,” he said. “Every time I hear about those kids, it makes me mad.”

According to the Times, the president planned to clarify that anyone who makes a living by selling guns must register as a licensed gun dealer who is required to conduct background checks. However, someone who sells only one or two guns could be considered a regulated dealer “engaged in the business” of selling firearms under new federal guidance on the issue.

The standards would take into account business activities by sellers, such as whether they accept credit cards; use business cards; use a website for sales; and rent tables at gun shows.

Obama also plans to hire more people to conduct background checks and to require gun dealers to report lost or stolen guns. He will also make it easier for states to submit mental health information for the federal background checks.

Obama told reporters on Monday that he has the authority to take such actions. “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 and believe in,” he said.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. to report that Obama held a press conference to introduce his proposals.

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