President Obama says he’ll be meeting Monday with Attorney General Loretta Lynch “to discuss options” for reducing gun deaths in America.
In a weekly address released a day early on Friday, Obama wished the nation a happy new year and reflected on what he sees as the biggest achievements of his first seven years in office, including gains in job growth, healthcare and energy independence.
"Because I get too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids, to sit around and do nothing,” Obama said. "I get letters from responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time these tragedies happen; who share my belief that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms; and who share my belief we can protect that right while keeping an irresponsible, dangerous few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.”
The announcement of the attorney general meeting comes a day after reports that Obama would issue long-awaited executive actions on stricter gun control next week when he returns from his vacation in Hawaii.
The White House has declined to specify what those actions may entail, but changes reportedly could include classifying more guns sellers as high-volume dealers and stricter rules for reporting lost or stolen guns.
"We know that we can’t stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something — anything — to protect our kids from gun violence?” Obama asked.
Unilateral White House action would guarantee a legal challenge from Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA), but Obama clearly intends to make gun control one of the leading issues of 2016 as Republican and Democratic Oval Office contenders, starkly divided on the issue, battle to succeed him.
"Last month, we remembered the third anniversary of Newtown,” Obama said, referencing the Connecticut massacre he’s called the worst day of his presidency. "This Friday, I’ll be thinking about my friend Gabby Giffords, five years into her recovery from the shooting in Tucson. And all across America, survivors of gun violence and those who lost a child, a parent, a spouse to gun violence are forced to mark such awful anniversaries every single day.”
Any tightening of gun laws faces stiff opposition on Capitol Hill, where a bill to tighten background checks failed in the wake of the Newtown shooting, which left 20 children and six adults dead. Obama called broad support of reform as a way to help prevent future tragedies.
"The gun lobby is loud and well organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well organized in our defense of our kids."