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Other actions the president might take include further limits on gun imports, and increased funding for research into the nature and effects of gun violence.
The reasons the White House might see the executive action route as attractive are obvious. Congressional action is uncertain, and there is substantial opposition, even among some Democrats, to banning whole weapon classes such as assault rifles. Executive action could allow Obama to trumpet some progress on gun control at a time when the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., are high in public thought. Yet such action would require little political capital on his part and would not distract from his efforts on something voters still say is their top priority – keeping the economy on track.
“The Obama administration better tread lightly on the issue of using Executive Orders to implement gun control measures,” tweeted Senator Graham earlier this month.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R) of Texas has gone even further. In a statement Monday, Representative Stockman called Obama’s possible moves “an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic” and threatened to file articles of impeachment to stop the actions.