The White House has identified 19 executive actions for President Barack Obama to move unilaterally on gun control, Vice President Joe Biden told a group of House Democrats on Monday, the administration’s first definitive statements about its response to last month’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Later this week, Obama will formally announce his proposals to reduce gun violence, which are expected to include renewal of the assault weapons ban, universal background checks and prohibition of high-capacity magazine clips. But Biden, who has been leading Obama’s task force on the response, spent two hours briefing a small group of sympathetic House Democrats on the road ahead in the latest White House outreach to invested groups.
The focus on executive orders is the result of the White House and other Democrats acknowledging the political difficulty of enacting any new gun legislation, a topic Biden did not address in Monday’s meeting.
The executive actions could include giving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority to conduct national research on guns, more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws and pushing for wider sharing of existing gun databases among federal and state agencies, members of Congress in the meeting said.
“It was all focusing on enforcing existing law, administering things like improving the background database, things like that that do not involve a change in the law but enforcing and making sure that the present law is administered as well as possible,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.).
The White House declined to comment on the details of what Obama will propose.
But Biden did indicate that the remains of the Obama campaign apparatus may be activated in the effort.
“He said that this has been a real focus on the policy and that the politics of this issue, that a strategy on the politics of the issue hasn’t been undertaken yet,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told POLITICO. “He did remind us that the campaign infrastructure is still accessible.”
Biden did not address two of the more significant issues in the gun debate: the appointment of a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the role violent images in the entertainment industry play in the nation’s gun violence.