A group of 24 Senate Democrats urged the president Monday to dodge Congress and act on his own to make new rules on gun control, after Congress has failed to move any gun bills.
The senators, led by Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, requested the White House take an immediate step to change the law that now allows sellers who do not have a federal license to sell guns to individuals at shows, online and elsewhere without conducting background checks.
The letter said Democrats would keep trying to pass a gun bill, but said Obama should explore options on his own in the meantime.
“We ask you, concurrently, to investigate and pursue all available options under your executive authority to reduce gun violence,” they wrote. “Specifically, your administration could take an immediate step that would have an important impact on limiting gun violence. We urge you to address an aspect of the high-volume gun seller loophole that allows guns to be sold without a background check by eliminating the ambiguity surrounding the term ‘engaged in the business’ as it pertains to federally licensed firearms dealers.”
“It would help ensure that those clearly holding themselves out as gun dealers are held to the same standard as the thousands of responsible gun dealers already licensed with [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] ATF across the country,” the senators wrote.
The regulatory definition of “engaged in the business” would be tweaked to include all gun sellers, not just ATF-licensed individuals. Current law requires only licensed gun dealers to carry out background checks during gun sales.
In the House, Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chair Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) sent a similar letter to the White House, with support from 114 of his colleagues.