White House Will Require Background Checks at Gun Shows and Online

The executive actions are expected to be formally announced Tuesday.

ByABC News
January 4, 2016, 6:32 PM

— -- The White House announced new executive action on gun control Monday, clarifying a requirement for those "in the business of selling firearms" to register as a licensed gun dealer and perform background checks on purchasers.

As a result of the move, the background checks would be mandatory for individuals purchasing firearms online or at gun shows. There is currently no licensing requirement for private sellers online or at gun shows, and only licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks on individuals.

"Just because you shop for guns with your mouse and not your feet doesn't mean you should be able to avoid background checks," White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said in a conference call Monday.

The new proposal aims to narrow the so-called gun show loophole and circumvents Congress, which has previously voted against initiatives to expand background checks. The new executive action clarifies a definition of who qualifies as a gun dealer, but Attorney General Loretta Lynch was unable to provide an estimate for how many sellers would be impacted or how many additional background checks will now be conducted.

In addition to tightening background checks at gun shows and online, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is finalizing a rule that will require individuals attempting to purchase firearms through a trust or corporation to undergo background checks. The FBI will also overhaul its background check system and add more than 230 additional examiners to process these background checks.

In addition, the White House is working to bolster mental health treatment by proposing a $500 million to increase access to mental health care, which will need Congressional approval, and wants to increase the use of mental health information in conducting background checks.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has also written a letter asking states to update their criminal record files, which are used in background checks, to include information on people who are disqualified from purchasing weapons due to mental illness and domestic abuse. The Department of Health and Human Services is also finalizing a new rule that would remove legal barriers which prevent people from sharing information about individuals who have mental health issues that would prohibit them from buying weapons.

After a months-long review process conducted by the administration, the president is set to formally announce the executive actions Tuesday. He’ll continue his gun control push on Thursday when he participates in a live CNN town hall discussing the plans.

"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 after meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and other law enforcement officials earlier in the day. He added the proposals are also “entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and people’s lawful right to bear arms.”

“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.”