What Obama’s Gun Control Plan Means

January 07, 2016 at 7:56 pm

In the final year of his presidency, President Barack Obama is aiming to curb gun violence in America with or without the help of Congress.

The president unveiled plans this week to expand background checks, up the enforcement of gun laws and leverage technology to make the weapons safer.

Michael Waldman, author of “The Second Amendment: A Biography” said Obama’s measures are sort of a back-up approach to curbing gun violence after attempts to pass legislation failed, specifically in the wake of the 2012 Newtown, Conn. shooting that killed 20 elementary school children.

“The real reason he’s doing it is because Congress refuses to act,” Waldman told MetroFocus Host Jack Ford. “And as you may remember there was legislation, bipartisan legislation brought to the floor of the Senate after the shootings to strengthen the background check system, and it had 90 percent public approval. It was bipartisan. It had a majority of the Senate. But a filibuster killed it.”

Waldman said while the president’s proposal is not as strong as a law, it does carry impact.

“I think that this series of executive actions is quite important, but more important politically probably than substantively because the background check system already exists,” he said.

The order clarifies who is subject to the law because sometimes private sales don’t include a background check.

“This makes clear in a number of different ways that everybody who’s in the business of selling guns needs to be covered,” Waldman said. “That’s not as broad as a piece of legislation would be so ultimately moving public opinion so that Congress is less afraid of the gun lobby is part of the answer for President Obama and what he’s trying to do.”

Since the announcement Tuesday, much attention has been paid to Obama’s actions on background checks, but Waldman says the president’s emphasis on smart technology for firearms may be more significant.

“He is pushing through these executive actions research and maybe even procurement of those smart guns,” Walderman said. “And if a glock has this technology a lot of people in the marketplace are going to want it also.”

Republican lawmakers have vowed to dismantle Obama’s plan.

Obama is holding a town hall on guns in America on CNN at 8 p.m.

Mutual of America PSEG


MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.


© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019