While state governments struggle to placate constituencies by enacting diverging gun laws taking effect this New Year, and the Federal government struggles to enact gun laws, President Barack Obama announced Friday on his national radio address that he will tackle the Federal problem with executive action, bypassing Congressional opposition.
“My New Year’s resolution is to move forward on our unfinished business as much as I can and I’ll be more frequently asking for your help,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “That’s especially true for one piece of unfinished business: our epidemic of gun violence.”
He announced plans to meet today with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss executive actions he could take to make it harder for “a dangerous few” to legally purchase guns. President Obama plans to tackle some of the smaller, unlicensed gun dealers in his upcoming proposal. His order would require them to get licenses and conduct background checks on potential buyers.
Opinions are mixed on the President’s decision to use an executive order to tighten gun laws.
Meanwhile, two states see major new gun laws taking effect with the new Year. In California, the country’s most populous state, has multiple new restrictions on guns, including one law that tightens a ban on firearms in and around schools. Now, the restriction includes most people who legally carry concealed weapons. Also, people can now ask a judge to temporarily seize weapons away from relatives who may pose a threat.
Texas, the second-most populous state, joins 44 other states in allowing at least some firearm owners to carry handguns openly in public places. Under the Texas law, guns can be carried by those with licenses and only in holsters. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said “I am proud to expand the rights of gun owners in the state of Texas,” as he signed the law in 2015.
In Colorado, where 2013 saw the implementation of stricter gun laws, the problem of enforcement has come to the fore as Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett hopes to help curb gun violence by prosecuting laws that prohibit people from applying for guns when they know they aren’t supposed to have them.. The 2013 law makes it a crime to even apply for a background check for people who know they are not qualified to own a gun, and Garnett said that part of the law needs to be a point of emphasis.
Violating that statute is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Garnett said he has already about six cases of people unlawfully trying to buy firearms in Boulder County, but he said its a law that many other districts — especially those who were against the gun restrictions in 2013 — are not very strict about enforcing.