President Obama on Thursday announced steps to curb the importing of military surplus weapons and also closed a loophole that allows felons and other people get around background checks by registering guns to corporations.
Obama added the two executive actions to a broader spectrum of gun control measures devised to reduce violence, reported The Associated Press. The mandates were rolled out in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left dozens dead.
“Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the president and vice president remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence,” said the White House in a statement.
The first new policy will prevent the government from allowing military weapons that were donated by the U.S. to allies that were then imported back into the country by private organizations. The Obama administration has said that 250,000 of these guns were approved to be re-imported back into the U.S. over the past eight years. Now, only the government and museums will be allow to re-import them.
The other policy entails stopping Americans who are ineligible to pass a background check–such as felons–by registering guns via corporations.
“It’s simple, it’s straightforward, it’s common sense,” Vice President Joe Biden said of the two new mandates at the White House. “It’s a very artful dodge to get around people who are not capable, constitutionally or legally, of owning a weapon,” Biden added.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) said the Obama administration’s moves are problematic, claiming that the background checks will not prevent criminals from obtaining firearms.
“The Obama administration has once again completely missed the mark when it comes to stopping violent crime,” said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. “This administration should get serious about prosecuting violent criminals who misuse guns and stop focusing its efforts on law-abiding gun owners.”
Biden said that the new restrictions don’t require congressional approval.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino lauded the executive moves, saying that “military-grade weapons have no place in our communities.”
“By enforcing the existing ban on the import of these military-grade firearms, President Obama and Vice President Biden are taking concrete steps to ensure that our streets are safer for all Americans,” they said.