President Obama is planning to begin his last year in office by expanding gun control via executive order, the White House announced Monday night.
The White House says  some of the new actions don’t require Congressional approval.
Among them: Expand background checks so that they include guns sold at gun shows and on the Internet. Another action would put $500 million toward mental health and would prevent some Social Security recipients from accessing guns. The White House would need Congressional approval for the new funds but apparently wouldn’t need approval for background checks.
“Sympathy is not enough to stop gun violence,” a White House website blog said. “Congress has repeatedly failed to take action, blocking commonsense reforms supported by the vast majority of the American people – including gun owners themselves. The President has a responsibility to do everything in his power to reduce gun violence. This week, he will.”
Additionally, the White House said Obama has directed the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to “conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.”
“The President has also directed the departments to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety,” the White House blog said.
Obama spotlighted gun control during his New Year’s radio address.
“A few months ago, I directed my team at the White House to look into any new actions I can take to help reduce gun violence,” Obama said. “And on Monday, I’ll meet with our attorney general, Loretta Lynch, to discuss our options.”
Republican leaders remained skeptical that Obama’s actions would have any impact.
“The administration has not communicated with us, and we have not been briefed,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), told CNN. “We will consider options once we have information, but what seems apparent is none of these ideas would have prevented the recent atrocities.”