President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil a package of executive actions to expand background checks for gun purchases, moves that will generate backlash from Republicans yet have only limited impact on the millions of guns circulating in the U.S.
The measures include tougher rules for those who currently sell firearms at gun shows and on the Internet without submitting buyers’ names for criminal background checks, and a warning to sellers that they face criminal prosecution if they try to skirt the law.
The administration proposes hiring hundreds of new workers to modernize the background check system and to handle the additional requests for checks. In addition, Obama is requesting $500 million for new mental health research and the Department of Health and Human Services is clarifying rules to remove some of the barriers to reporting mental health status to the background check information system.
The initiative falls short of the broad changes in gun laws that Obama has called for in the past, which would require action by Congress. But it drew criticism even before it was previewed by White House officials Monday night. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said in a statement that Obama “is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will.”
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