What Obama’s Gun Control Executive Order Will and Won't Do

Will Lester/AP

The White House issued details about president Barack Obama’s proposed executive order on gun control on Monday  evening. The measure seeks to make gun sales easier to monitor, and keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and people with criminal records.

The proposed executive order, which is expected to be announced by the president on Tuesday, would:

  • Require gun sellers who operate at gun shows and on the internet to be licensed, and subject them to criminal prosecution that can include up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if they are not.
  • Close a “loophole” that allows gun buyers to acquire items like machine guns without background checks through a “gun trust”(paywall), a legal entity originally created to allow gun owners to pass weapons to their family members. The number of gun trust applications grew from fewer than 900 in 2000 to more than 90,000 in 2014, the White House said.
  • Add 230 new Federal Bureau of Investigation staff to process mandatory background checks, and 200 more people to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to enforce existing gun laws.
  • Make gun dealers responsible for reporting guns that go missing.
  • Spend another $500 million to “engage” individuals with serious mental health issues in care.

The new White House proposals also leave out some restrictions that have been discussed—and even proposed by other lawmakers—but never passed:

  • Ban sales of guns to people on “no fly” lists who are suspected of terrorist activity.
  • Ban automatic weapon sales.
  • Limit sales of ammunition.

Republicans have already vowed to fight the executive order, but how, exactly they could do so is not clear, although the next president could repeal it. One tactic may be to refuse to fund the president’s 2017 budget, which includes spending for the ATF and FBI agents.

Although most Americas favor more gun control, as Quartz has reported earlier, the Republican-led US Senate has strenuously blocked efforts to increase it through the legislature.

Obama will also discuss the proposals during a live “town hall meeting” at Virginia’s George Mason University with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper on Thursday.

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