Obama gears up to impose new gun-control curbs

By Juliet Eilperin

The rally of Texans with  handguns holstered on their hips to celebrate a new "open carry" law is a sign of a wider debate in election year.  Photo / AP
The rally of Texans with handguns holstered on their hips to celebrate a new "open carry" law is a sign of a wider debate in election year. Photo / AP

United States President Barack Obama will press ahead with a set of executive actions on guns this week despite growing terrorism concerns that have dampened some Americans' enthusiasm for tighter firearms restrictions.

The President will meet Attorney-General Loretta Lynch tomorrow to finalise a series of new gun control measures and will announce his package of proposals soon afterwards.

One of the main proposals would require some unlicensed gun dealers to get licences and conduct background checks on potential buyers.

The change is aimed at informal dealers, such as those who sell online frequently or rent tables at gun shows but do not have a storefront.

Administration lawyers have spent months reviewing various proposals to make sure they can withstand legal challenges. The idea of requiring informal gun dealers to obtain a licence from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and of conducting background checks came up two years ago when White House officials drafted a proposal for dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually.

The idea was shelved because of legal concerns but gained new momentum after a shooting in Oregon last October.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she would pursue such a requirement by executive action if elected and Administration officials revised their stance.

Obama said he was moving unilaterally because Congress had failed to address the growing problem of gun violence. "I get too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids to sit around and do nothing."

While beefing up background checks has strong support, Obama's actions also come as Americans have grown more fearful of of terrorist strikes and are expressing an openness to having ordinary citizens carry guns.

In Texas, more than 100 gun supporters rallied with handguns on their hips to celebrate a new "open carry" law. The stand in Texas - known until now as one of the more restrictive states - is a sign of a wider debate in election year. Texas is the latest state to effectively return to 19th-century gun laws - allowing a million individuals who have passed a safety course and who hold a concealed handgun permit to openly carry their weapons for the first time since 1871.

But the law bans guns in a variety of places including schools, bars, sports arenas and secure areas of airports.

- Daily Telegraph, Washington Post

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