Ryan: Obama gun actions 'a distraction'

Ryan: Obama gun actions 'a distraction'
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) downplayed President Obama’s executive actions on gun control on Wednesday, repeatedly dismissing them as a “distraction” from Islamic terrorism and other key issues facing the country.

“I think it would be nice if he would actually focus on defeating [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria],” Ryan told reporters, “on calling radical Islamic terrorism what it is instead of talking about how we can intimidate and frustrate the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.

“We will look at all of our options but will not take this distraction for more than it is — a distraction,” Ryan added.

At his first news conference of 2016, the Speaker attempted to shift the media’s focus from gun control back to ObamaCare. The House later on Wednesday will put a bill on Obama’s desk repealing his signature healthcare law and defunding Planned Parenthood; Obama has vowed a swift veto.

A day earlier, Obama dominated the news cycle by unveiling a package of unilateral actions aimed at curbing gun violence. The centerpiece of the package would require gun sellers — whether they do business in a store, at gun shows or online — to be licensed and conduct background checks on buyers.

But Ryan suggested existing law already requires those buying and selling guns to have a federal firearms license.

“There isn’t a loophole,” Ryan said after meeting with rank-and-file GOP lawmakers where the gun issue was discussed. “This is a distraction. The president clearly does not respect the Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens.”

Ryan has said a lawsuit would likely be filed to stop Obama’s gun actions, but the Speaker wouldn’t say if congressional Republicans would be the ones leading the fight in the courts. Other possibilities include legislation to overturn or defund Obama’s policies.

“We’re looking at all of our options,” Ryan said.