President Obama Plans To Use Executive Orders For Gun Control

Biden, Meeting Gun Control Advocates, Vows Action (New York Times, Jan 9, 2013):

WASHINGTON — President Obama is planning a comprehensive effort to pass legislation and use executive orders to prevent gun violence, representatives of about a dozen gun control organizations were told Wednesday at a White House meeting.

“The president and I are determined to take action. This is not an exercise in photo opportunities,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden said as photographers were given a chance to take pictures before the closed-door meeting.

During the two-hour meeting, Mr. Biden and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. vowed to move swiftly.

“Clearly they are not talking about just having a conversation with the American people,” said John Feinblatt, who attended the meeting on behalf of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate for greater gun control measures.

Mr. Feinblatt, a top aide to Mr. Bloomberg, said Mr. Biden promised both a “legislative plan that could be achieved and a plan for executive actions.”

“Both those things are going to be pursued,” he said.

The meeting was part of Mr. Biden’s effort to develop proposals for Mr. Obama and Congress in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month. A panel led by Mr. Biden is scheduled to offer recommendations this month.

Offering a glimpse of the approach that he might take, Mr. Biden hinted that his group was not likely to recommend an all-or-nothing approach to the issue of gun violence.

“We are not going to get caught up in the notion unless we can do everything, we’re not going to do anything,” Mr. Biden said.

Among those at the White House were representatives of the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, States United to Prevent Gun Violence and several state gun control organizations.

“I want to hear about your experiences,” Mr. Biden, sitting next to Mr. Holder, said to the group. “I’m convinced that we can affect the well-being of millions of Americans and take thousands of people out of harm’s way if we act responsibly.”

Mr. Feinblatt said the general consensus among the representatives of advocacy organizations at the meeting was to seek broad changes to law that could include an assault weapons ban, limits on high-capacity magazines for ammunition, better enforcement measures, a gun-trafficking statute and improved data for background checks.

He said the advocates also pushed for executive actions that would not require Congressional approval, including new efforts by the Justice Department to prosecute people who lie on their background checks.

Mr. Feinblatt said that some of the people in the meeting told personal stories of grief that reminded the others around the table that “this is not some abstract exercise.”

Mr. Biden made it clear that doing nothing about gun violence was not an option under consideration. But he also said that his group would meet with gun owners and gun rights groups — including the National Rifle Association — that oppose significant new gun restrictions.

“I’ve also invited the gun owners and the N.R.A. to come and make their case as well,” Mr. Biden said. “We are reaching out to all parties on whatever side of this debate that you fall.”

He added: “But the president is going to act. There is executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet.”

In addition to the N.R.A., representatives from Walmart, whose stores are the largest seller of guns in the country, will also attend a meeting with the vice president on Thursday.

A spokesman for the company initially told The Wall Street Journal that Walmart would not be sending anyone to the meeting. But David Tovar, the vice president for corporate communications, reversed himself Wednesday morning.

“We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate,” Mr. Tovar said in a statement. “We take this issue very seriously and are committed to staying engaged in this discussion as the administration and Congress work toward a consensus on the right path forward.”

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