President Barack Obama will announce on Tuesday a set of executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence. The measures focus on expanding background checks, increasing enforcement of current laws and calling for more research into gun safety.

The White House unveiled the proposed actions on Monday after the president met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey to discuss the initiatives. In brief remarks on Monday, the president said that Congress’s lack of action in the wake of multiple high profile shootings this year pushed him to take these steps.

“It is my strong belief that for us to get our complete arms around the problem, Congress must act,” Obama said on Monday. He emphasized that his proposals “are well within my legal authority in the executive branch but also are ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support and believe in.”



Obama’s executive actions do not include the kind of sweeping changes he unsuccessfully tried to get through Congress three years ago. After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, Obama sought to close loopholes that allowed millions of guns to be sold online or at gun shows without background checks.

This time, the president’s executive actions will clarify existing laws that require anyone who makes a living by selling guns to register as a licensed gun dealer and therefore conduct background checks. Decisions about which sellers need licenses will be based on a mix of business activities, the Washington Post reported, including whether a seller processes credit cards, rents space at gun shows and has business cards. Obama plans to note that criminal penalties already exist for those who violate these laws.

Other provisions of Obama’s plan include increasing support for the FBI’s background check system and adding 230 law enforcement agents. He will also direct agencies to conduct more research into gun safety technology, which would aim to prevent the accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms.

The executive actions would also increase access to mental health care and include information in background checks about those who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons. Some critics are worried that allowing this information to be shared in background check systems could reinforce the stigma around mental illness.



Obama is scheduled to discuss gun violence during a town hall meeting on Thursday evening that will be aired live on CNN. Even before the details of the president’s actions were announced Monday, Republicans and gun-rights activists sounded the alarm.

“The president is again targeting law-abiding citizens, intruding further into innocent Americans’ lives,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement Monday. “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 rights — all of them. This is a dangerous level of executive overreach, and the country will not stand for it.”

Obama is trying to make an impact on this issue in his final year after battling with Congress in the past. He said Monday that his actions would save lives, and tweeted that the gun lobby “can’t hold America hostage.”



“We have to be very clear this is not going to solve every violent crime in this country, is not going to prevent every mass shooting, is not going to keep guns out of the hands of every criminal,” he said to reporters Monday. “But it will potentially save lives in this country and spare families the pain and the extraordinary loss they’ve suffered.”