By Jordan Fabian - 01/04/16 06:50 PM EST
Obama action on guns coming Tuesday
President Obama will announce his plans to sidestep Congress and take unilateral action gun control on Tuesday, a move that will spark a major election-year fight with Republicans.
The president will issue a long-anticipated policy that expands the definition of a licensed gun dealer to those who sell firearms at gun shows and online, the White House announced Monday.
Many sellers in those areas are unlicensed, which gun-control advocates say allows them to skirt federal background check requirements.
The policy does not set a specific number of gun sales that would force a seller to register with the federal government. Instead, the government would consider a number of factors, including whether the seller represents itself as an official dealer and the frequency of sales.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will issue new guidance to sellers on who must register as a licensed dealer, an effort to narrow the so-called "gun show loophole."
“It’s not where you are doing it, but what you are doing, that determines whether you are in the business of selling firearms,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters on a conference call.
The new rules will close a legal loophole that allows firearm buyers to skirt background checks by applying to purchase them through trusts and corporations.
Obama will announce the new rules mandating that sellers shipping guns are responsible for reporting weapon that are lost or stolen in transit.
The measures amount to Obama’s biggest push on gun control since a sweeping legislative effort following the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting failed in Congress.
Since then, the president has struggled to grapple with a spate of mass shootings — including a massacre at an Oregon community college in October that spurred him to consider new executive actions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, mentally ill individuals and others.
But it’s unclear how effective the measures will be in curbing gun violence. Critics have pointed out that the background check proposals would not have blocked sales of firearms used at Sandy Hook and in the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., which were purchased legally at gun stores.
Obama plans an aggressive roll out to defend his policies and respond blistering criticism from Republicans. It starts with a statement in the East Room on Tuesday morning.
The president will participate in a CNN town hall discussion on gun violence that will air Thursday night in prime time.
The president offered the public a glimpse of his arguments on Monday, pledging the measures are within his legal authority and are backed by “the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners.”
“This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country, it’s not going to prevent every mass shooting, it’s not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal,” Obama said after meeting with Lynch and other top law enforcement officials.
But he added they “will potentially save lives and spare families the pain and the extraordinary loss that they’ve suffered as a consequence of a firearm getting in the hands of the wrong people.”
Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanHouse Democrats hit with ethics complaint over sit-in Pelosi urges Dems to hold sit-ins in their districts this week Ryan: GOP won't 'tolerate' another sit-in MORE (R-Wis.) blasted Obama’s plans as "a dangerous level of executive overreach" and accused him of defying the will of Congress.
Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), a member of the Appropriations Committee, threatened to cut off funding for the Department of Justice to implement the actions.
After Sandy Hook, Obama issued 23 executive actions designed to curb gun violence, including enhanced information sharing for background checks and requiring private health insurers to cover mental health services.
But even after legislation failed, the background check measure was not adopted reportedly because of internal disagreements of whether it is legally defensible in court.
“We’re very comfortable that the president can legally take these actions now,” Lynch said.
The White House announced several additional steps, including efforts to speed up processing background checks to 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. The Federal Bureau of Investigation plans to hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff to process the checks.
The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule that makes it easier for states to share background check information about people blocked from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.
To enforce the new rules, the White House is asking Congress for funding to hire 200 new ATF agents and investigators and $500 million in funding to address mental health issues.