President Barack Obama said he’ll meet on Monday with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss what executive actions he can take to restrain gun violence, focusing White House attention on the contentious issue in his last year in office.
The plan quickly drew the attention of Donald Trump, front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination, who said there were already enough "rules and regulations" governing the firearms industry.
Enacting new gun rules, which the administration promised in December, is part of “my New Year’s resolution to move forward on our unfinished business as much as I can,” Obama said is his weekly video and radio address, released on Friday.
The president singled out gun control as a priority, saying federal efforts to limit violence had been stifled by a gun lobby that wields more power in Congress than public opinion warrants.
“Tens of thousands of our fellow Americans have been mowed down by gun violence,” Obama said. “And yet Congress still hasn’t done anything to prevent what happened to them from happening to other families.”
No major gun-control measure has emerged from Washington since a 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired ten years later and wasn't renewed. Obama unsuccessfully tried for congressional passage of new gun-control laws after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 young children and six adult staff members were killed.
"We know that we can’t stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one?" said Obama.
A Senate vote in December to strengthen background checks on gun-buyers, voted on the day after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, killed 14 people, failed largely along party lines. Nearly all Democrats supported the measures while Republicans, who hold the majority, were mostly opposed.
"It's not the gun that pulls the trigger," Trump said in an interview taped for CBS News' "Face the Nation" broadcast that will air on Sunday. "I don't like it. I don't like what he's doing."
"We have plenty of rules and regulations, there's plenty of things they can do, right now, that are already there, they don't do them," Trump said, according to a transcript provided by the network.
The three major 2016 Democratic candidates for president have called for tougher gun control in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, carried out by a married couple who were followers of radical Islam.
That includes Senator Bernie Sanders. The Vermont independent,who has been criticized by rivals Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley for not being tough enough on guns in the past, was one of the 48 senators who voted in favor of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin's amendment to expand background checks.
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