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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report Five things to watch in round two of Trump confirmation fights This week: Confirmation fights dominate ahead of inauguration MORE (R-Ky.) panned President Obama's push to expand background checks for guns sales, suggesting the move boils down to politics.
"It was all about politics," he told WVLK, a local radio station in Kentucky, on Wednesday. "I'm in politics and I think I sort of know what's all about politics and what isn't."
The president announced new executive actions to combat gun violence during an emotional press conference Tuesday, including requiring background checks for firearms purchased over the Internet or at gun shows.
McConnell said the administration has an "abysmal record" for prosecuting violations of gun laws that are already on the books. He added that, while the president "broke into tears" during his remarks, gun manufactures likely got a boost from his actions.
"If you look at these mass shootings it sort of underscores the argument that if somebody there had had a weapon fewer people would have died," he added. "The notion that somehow any of these proposals are likely to keep ... guns out of the hands of criminals, not likely to happen."
Republicans, including McConnell, have long pressed for Congress to focus on combatting mental illness rather than tightening gun rules. McConnell doubled down on that, saying that mass shooters largely fall into "two camps" — individuals who are terrorists or individuals suffering from a serious mental illness.
Republicans and some Democrats have criticized the new executive actions, saying that Obama doesn't have the legal authority to implement the new rules without Congress. McConnell suggested that Obama decided to begin sidestepping the legislative branch after Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 elections.
"I think his view was I don't need to to deal with these people now ... so I'm going to pursue my agenda through the executive order, unilateral action," he added. "Our ability in Congress to stop that is quite limited."
Republicans have tried to use legislation to knock down Obama regulations, particularly new environmental rules, but the president has vetoed them.
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