President Barack Obama is expected to unilaterally implement new gun control measures this week after months of deliberation over the legal and political implications of the move.
The proposed executive order would reportedly require anyone who sells more than 50 guns a year to obtain a federal license and conduct background checks on potential buyers. Obama’s aides came up with the idea after Congress rejected legislation to similarly expand background checks to private sellers in 2013.
Obama is scheduled to meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch Monday to discuss how to prevent legal attacks on the executive order, and will hold a town hall meeting Monday night to make his case before the public.
Obama said moving forward on unfinished business is his New Year’s resolution in his weekly radio address Friday. “That’s especially true for one piece of unfinished business,” he said. “That’s our epidemic of gun violence.”
The White House is expected to announce the order this week, an unnamed member of a gun control advocacy group familiar with the administration’s efforts told The Guardian. The source characterized the executive order’s new threshold for when gun sellers must conduct background checks as “reasonable.”
CNN reports the announcement is “imminent,” according to sources familiar with White House plans, although the White House declined to comment directly on the exact timing. (RELATED: Former Congressman On Obama’s Gun Action: ‘It’s War’)
Obama has previously opted against issuing the proposed executive order — although he’s repeatedly called for new gun control rules — because of legal concerns and because it’s been perceived as politically unpalatable. Some federal lawyers expressed worry it wouldn’t hold up under a legal challenge, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials worried it would be hard to enforce and might affect too many sellers.
Current law exempts anyone who occasionally sells guns for personal reasons, such as enhancement of their collection or as a hobby, from the requirement to obtain a federal license and perform background checks. The new rule could draw many of those formerly exempted people in.
Gun show businesses are booming as a result of Obama’s plans, reported the Guardian.
Attendance at the Great Southern Gun and Knife Show in Birmingham, Ala., has tripled over the past year according to one of the show’s owners, Elizabeth Bean. “Every time he talks about it, he boosts attendance,” she told the Guardian.
Added Louis Bakane, who had a booth at the show: “They’re panicking.”