President Barack Obama unveiled his forthcoming executive actions on gun control on Monday, and will spend the week promoting them in the press.
The formal announcement will come at a White House ceremony on Tuesday, and Obama will also host a live town hall meeting in conjunction with CNN on Thursday.
Gathered below are 15 things every American needs to know about the new executive orders.
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1. The orders stop short of requiring universal background checks
— According to Politico
, "While Obama cannot unilaterally require universal background checks, top administration officials predicted the new guidelines would sweep in all but the most casual sellers."
2. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Obama is subverting the constitution
— "While we don't yet know the details of the plan, the president is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will," he said in a statement, the Washington Examiner reported
. "His proposals to restrict gun rights were debated by the United States Senate, and they were rejected. No president should be able to reverse legislative failure by executive fiat, not even incrementally. The American people deserve a president who will respect their constitutional right — all of them. This is a dangerous level of executive overreach, and the country will not stand for it."
3. Ted Cruz responded by raffling off a shotgun
— On Sunday, the senator from Texas set up a webpage offering his supporters the change to win a shotgun engraved with his presidential campaign logo, MarketWatch reported
. Cruz also said he would undo Obama's executive orders and strengthen Second Amendment rights as president.
4. Donald Trump would "unsign" the orders as president
— The GOP frontrunner told a packed rally in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Sunday that he is opposed to Obama's gun control plans. "There's an assault on the Second Amendment. You know Obama's going to do an executive order and really knock the hell out of it," Trump said, according to CNN
. "You know, the system's supposed to be you get the Democrats, you get the Republicans, and you make deals. He can't do that. He can't do that. So he's going to sign another executive order having to do with the Second Amendment, having to do with guns. I will veto. I will unsign that so fast."
5. Marco Rubio vowed to undo Obama's orders on "day one"
— Speaking Sunday evening in New Hampshire, the second primary state and a thoroughly pro-gun state, Rubio said Obama "has waged war on the Constitution" by issuing executive orders against the Second Amendment, Time magazine reported
. "Don’t worry," he continued, "on my first day in office, behind that desk, don’t worry, those orders are gone."
6. The orders will reduce background check exemptions for many hobbyists
— Currently, gun sales by hobbyists and collectors do not require background checks, but sales by professional gun dealers "engaged in the business" of dealing guns do require background checks (and also require the seller to obtain a federal license). The new executive orders will seek to limit hobbyist exemptions by clarifying an existing law so that sellers who sell firearms at gun shows and online can be classified as professional gun dealers, USA Today reported
. This will narrow, but not close, what some call the "gun show loophole."
7. Hobbyist exemptions are not based on sales location or numbers
— After meeting with Obama on Monday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, "Let me be clear: It’s not where you are located but what you are doing that determines whether you are engaged in the business of dealing in firearms." Likewise, the order does not set a numerical threshold on what differentiates hobby sales from professional sales. Lynch did note, however, that as few as two gun sales have in the past triggered background check requirements, as determined by the courts.
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8. Exemptions will be determined holistically
— White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett said the ATF will take into account all the "facts and circumstances" of the gun seller when determining exemption status. Things like business cards, ability to take credit-card payments, profit margins, and original packaging are all part of the equation.
9. Obama requested more money for mental healthcare
— The president requested $500 million be added to the federal budget in order to improve access to mental healthcare.
10. The FBI's background check system will get more staff
— One of Obama's executive orders requires the hiring of more staff, 230 examiners, so that the government is equipped for "processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," Fox News reported
. This is a roughly 50-percent staff increase.
11. The orders will NOT ban large capacity magazines
— Ahead of the announcement, the Obama administration considered several measures that it ultimately decided it didn't have the power to do. One of those things was banning large capacity magazines for firearms, USA Today reported
12. The orders will NOT ban people using the terrorist "no fly" list
— After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, many called for banning anyone on the federal "no fly" list from obtaining firearms. Many said this was a terrible idea, as many prominent people and representatives who are clearly not involved in terrorist activity have appeared on the list in the past.
13. Obama also issued a presidential memorandum on "smart guns"
— According to USA Today, "Obama directed the departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to study 'smart gun' technology to prevent accidental gunshots and allow better tracking of lost and stolen guns — with the idea of using the federal government's purchasing power to encourage gun makers to market safer firearms."
14. The orders would not have stopped recent mass shootings
— Obama's executive orders would not have stopped the San Bernardino shooters, nor the Charleston church shooting, as perpetrators in neither case bought their guns under the hobbyist exemption. In fact, after the terrorist massacre in San Bernardino, The Associated Press reported
, "The deadly shooting in San Bernardino happened in a state with some of the nation's toughest gun laws: California bars assault weapons, blocks the sale of large-capacity magazines, and requires universal background checks for all gun purchases."
15. The Supreme Court could stall and strike down Obama's orders
— After the president tried to unilaterally overhaul the nation's immigration system via executive order, the Supreme Court issued an injunction, and the legality of the orders is now under review, Politico reported
. Like the immigration orders, Obama's gun control measures could also come under judicial review.
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