Lynch defends Obama's gun actions

Cameron Lancaster

Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended President Obama’s recent executive actions on guns Wednesday in the face of fierce Republican criticism.

“As the list of tragedies involving firearms has grown, so has the American people’s belief that we must do more to stem the tide of gun violence,” Lynch told a group of Senate Republicans.

President Obama earlier this month unveiled a series of executive actions on gun control. Among other things, they will expand the number of firearms dealers who must conduct background checks and require dealers to report stolen guns.

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Republicans contend the president is misusing his executive authority, but Lynch said the gun actions are “consistent with the Constitution” and “laws passed by Congress."

“The Gun Control Act lists the people who are not allowed to have firearms, such as felons, domestic abusers and others,” Lynch explained. “Congress has also required that background checks be conducted as part of sales made by federally licensed firearms dealers to make sure guns stay out of the wrong hands.”

“The actions announced by the president, which focus on background checks and keeping guns out of the wrong hands, are fully consistent with the laws passed by Congress,” she continued.

Lynch testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on commerce, chaired by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who has been highly critical of the Obama administration’s gun actions.

"It’s clear to me that the American people are fearful that President Obama is eager to strip them of their Second Amendment rights,” Shelby said.

"Let me be clear: The Second Amendment is not a suggestion,” he warned Lynch.

Republicans pressed Lynch for answers about the gun actions.

"Do you believe the rights granted by the Second Amendment are equally as important as those granted by the First Amendment, and the Fourth Amendment, and the Fifth Amendment, Seventh Amendment, and so forth?” Shelby asked.

But Democrats on the panel defended the gun actions. 

Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiThe Trail 2016: Her big night Clinton to cast election as ‘moment of reckoning’ Sanders gives blessing as Dems nominate Clinton MORE (D-Md.) said the actions are an important step toward reducing gun violence around the country.

“No one is immune from gun violence, whether you are a congresswoman trying to meet with your constituents named Gabby Giffords, whether your children go to elementary school in the wonderful suburban community called Sandy Hook, whether you’re just simply going to movies, or going to a community college, or sitting in a Charleston church," she said.