In nationally televised remarks, Obama said he would use the full force of his authority to implement recommendations put forth by the gun violence task force he assembled following last month’s elementary school shootings in Connecticut.
"I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality," he said,
But the president’s power to act unilaterally is limited, and the big-ticket items he is pursuing – including an assault-weapons ban and universal background checks – will require congressional action.
Included in the executive actions (here's a list) were measures meant to shore up the FBI’s woefully incomplete National Instant Background Check System, strengthened requirements for tracing firearms recovered in criminal investigations and a directive ordering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the causes of gun violence.
Some of the actions announced Wednesday are vaguely written, such as the directive to “maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.” Others, including Obama’s nomination of Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, would not have a direct impact on gun violence.