Obama talks gun control with Giffords

Obama talks gun control with Giffords
© White House

President Obama on Friday met with prominent gun control advocate former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband, Mark Kelly, the White House said. 

The meeting, which was not on the president’s public schedule, comes as Obama is weighing executive actions on gun control in response to a string of mass shootings that have cast a cloud over his presidency.

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Obama spoke with Giffords and Kelly "as part of the administration's ongoing effort to address gun violence in America," the White House said in a statement. 

 

"They discussed what more can be done to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them including ongoing efforts by the administration to identify additional actions within existing authorities," the White House added.

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is helping lead the gun control push, also attended the meeting.

Obama’s sit-down with Giffords was planned prior to this week's massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., which left 14 dead and prompted him to renew his call for new gun control measures. 

Giffords was hit in the head by a bullet during a mass shooting at a constituent event in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011. She survived after emergency surgery, but the attack left six dead and 15 wounded. 

The former lawmaker and Kelly, a retired astronaut, founded a political action committee to push for stronger gun laws after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, which left 28 dead. 

Giffords has attended a series of meetings with gun control advocates who are pressing Obama to take action on guns in lieu of congressional legislation, according to The New York Times

Facing opposition from the Republican-controlled Congress, Obama is considering using his executive powers to broaden background check requirements for gun sellers.

A proposal reportedly under consideration would classify more sellers as high-volume dealers, which would close a legal loophole that allows many sales conducted online or at gun shows to skirt existing background check provisions.

But such a measure would surely prompt a legal challenge from gun-rights groups, who say Obama lacks the authority to tighten background checks alone. The National Rifle Association and GOP lawmakers have blasted the idea as executive overreach.

White House officials have been scouring the nation’s gun laws for actions Obama could take since the shooting at a community college in Oregon in October. Obama spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday declined to reveal if and when the actions would be announced.

“I don't have a timeline for you to share with you on in terms of any additional executive actions that the administration may take to put in place some common-sense gun safety policies,” he told reporters.

Updated at 5:50 p.m.