President Obama Claims Executive Action on Gun Control Within His Authority

PHOTO:President Obama holds his final news conference of the year in Washington, Dec. 18, 2015. PlayABC News
WATCH Obama to Take Executive Action on Gun Control

The executive actions on gun control under consideration by President Obama are within his legal authority, the president said today after a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and other U.S. law enforcement officials.

“The good news is that these are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they’re also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support and believe in,” the president said following the meeting in the Oval Office today, though not providing details.

He later added the proposals are also “entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and people’s lawful right to bear arms.”

After October’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, President Obama asked his team to analyze what executive authority he could take on gun control, and he has said addressing ways to curb gun violence is part of his “New Year’s resolution” to complete unfinished business in the final year of his presidency.

One option under consideration is expanding background check rules for people purchasing guns from dealers who sell a large quantity of firearms, including sales at gun shows and online, administration officials have said.

The president will formally reveal his executive actions Tuesday. Despite not knowing the specific details of the plan, Republicans quickly criticized his imminent proposals.

“I haven't seen them, but his first impulse is always to take rights away from law-abiding citizens, and it’s wrong. It's a pattern that's quite dangerous,” Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said on Fox News Sunday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan accused the president of “subverting he legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will.”

But Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders embraced the president’s pending executive actions.

"When I came out with my proposals for common sense gun safety measures, I did say that in the absence of congressional action, I would use executive authority to go as far as would be possible under the law and I applaud the president for taking a hard look at that,” Clinton said in Derry, New Hampshire, Sunday.

Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “I would prefer that we could have bipartisan support, but the truth is, Republicans are not interested in doing anything about gun safety. I think he's doing what the American people would like him to do.”

In addition to his Tuesday speech outlining the plans, the president will participate in a one-hour live CNN town hall on gun control Thursday evening on the fifth anniversary of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

After his meeting with Lynch and Comey, the president lauded the recommendations provided to him by the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives today, but he acknowledged any executive orders won’t prevent all gun violence in the United States.

“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,” he said. “It will potentially save lives in this country and spare families the pain and the extraordinary loss that they’ve suffered as a consequence of a firearm being in the hands of wrong people.”