With opposition in Congress to renewing a ban on assault weapons, the White House sees advantages to using executive powers to signal progress on gun control. But Obama would need Congress to achieve some likely goals.
At his news conference Monday President Obama said he’s considering using his executive powers to order up some new gun-control measures. What sorts of things could he do on the gun issue on his own?
Well, he won’t be instituting sweeping edicts such as a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines. Those would require congressional legislation, which he’s also vowed to push for. What Mr. Obama can do is issue executive orders based on his constitutional authority or existing statutes. Generally, this sort of executive action deals with government officials or agencies, according to a 2010 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on the subject.
Executive orders “usually affect private individuals only indirectly,” according to CRS.
Thus one thing Obama might do is tighten the existing background check system meant to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, according to a list of possible executive actions compiled by the left-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP).