President Barack Obama waded into politically divisive waters this week by ordering law enforcement agencies to expand gun control measures in the U.S. Now, he’s expected to make the case for those measures in a hourlong town hall meeting on gun violence Thursday hosted by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.
Obama planned to speak about executive actions he announced Tuesday requiring federal background checks on all firearm purchases and licensing for nearly everyone who regularly sells guns. The live town hall, titled “Guns in America,” will be held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, starting at 8 p.m. EST. To watch a live stream of the program, click here.
Obama has struggled to toughen gun restrictions during his presidency, even after a string of mass shootings left more than 400 people dead in 2015. Approximately 32,000 Americans are killed by guns each year.
Democratic and Republican members of Congress had been deadlocked on legislation that accomplishes what Obama’s executive actions do. Universal background checks and greater access to mental health records for background checks found widespread public support in recent years, despite partisan opposition in Washington.
"Guns in America” was timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Democrat from Arizona who was left critically wounded when a gunman with a history of mental health problems opened fire at a constituent event in Tucson. The shooting left six people dead and 13 wounded.
Obama is expected to take questions from the town hall audience, according to CNN. The policies were a result of discussions the president had earlier this week with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and James Comey, the FBI director.
Critics of the executive actions have said the measures infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. They also reject Obama’s plan to bypass Congress, which would have to pass legislation to make background checks truly universal. An executive order can be reversed by the president who succeeds Obama.