Obama’s controversial move drew fire from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. He said the president showed an indifference to the bipartisanship message the Senator had spread over the holidays.
“An unwillingness to find common ground and achieve compromise has been a hallmark of this president’s tenure, and this issue is unfortunately no different,” Cornyn said.
Congressman Randy Weber said the president was looking for “political brownie points” with his party and nothing more. Weber is a co-sponsor in a House resolution that seeks to censure the president for the memorandum and other points of his agenda.
“The President’s excessive use of executive action completely disregards Congress and the Constitution. It’s ignorant to think that ramping up gun control will exclusively prevent bad people from doing bad things,” Weber said.
The executive action differs from an executive order slightly. Both are recorded in the Federal Register but an action is entered as a memorandum rather than a rule. The presidential document issued last week does not have legal weight but it does express an aggressiveness about an agenda.
In the action last week, Obama describes a series of background check overhauls from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He said the FBI should be allowed to add 283 more staff to handle gun control.
He also said his 2017 budget will call for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce existing gun laws.
Meanwhile, Cornyn criticized Obama for not focusing on mental health issues and choosing to use enforcement to control gun violence.
“Legislation I’ve introduced, the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, would strengthen the existing background check system without expanding it and improve treatment, preventative screening and crisis response for individuals with mental illness,” he said.
While not specifically mentioning Cornyn’s act, Obama said his administration calls for a $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.
Cornyn still charged the president with not cooperating with Congress.
“Rather than unilaterally impose a gun control agenda that’s unlawful and strips the constitutional rights of elderly Americans, the President should better enforce current law and work with Congress on legislation reforming our mental health system,” he said.
The executive action also describes loopholes that the President pushes for closure. Among them include licenses for internet gun sellers, more stringent rules for person buying weapons through a trust and other crackdowns.
Regarding new initiatives and actions, Obama’s executive action calls for the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to prepare a report in 90 days that outlines new research into gun safety.
Specifically, Obama wants to see how they can conduct or sponsor research that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharges or unauthorized use of firearms. He also wants to improve the ways to trace lost or stolen guns.
Cornyn meanwhile, said reports are indicating an overall decrease in gun and a 10-year decline in felony weapons convictions. His data showed 9,206 convictions in 2005. That number declined to 6,002 at the end of 2015.