Obama's gun measures raise questions about executive orders - KCTV5

Obama's gun measures raise questions about executive orders

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President Barack Obama's sweeping gun-control package faces an uncertain future on Capitol Hill, where majority House Republicans are rejecting his proposals while the president's allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate are stopping well short of pledging immediate action.

Obama signed 23 executive actions Wednesday, including orders to make more federal data available for background checks and end a freeze on government research on gun violence. He is also calling for limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds or less.

And those executive orders are raising a lot of questions, especially among gun enthusiasts.

The big question is whether the executive orders are constitutional.

Mary Raybon's neighborhood is no stranger to gun violence, often by stolen weapons. She gives Obama's plan high praise.

"I think that it is wonderful," Raybon said.

Obama's proposals came a month after the shootings in Newtown, which he has called the worst day of his presidency. His announcements capped a swift and wide-ranging effort, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to respond to the deaths.

The $500 million plan marks the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in nearly two decades. It also sets up a tough political fight with Congress as Obama starts his second term needing Republican support to meet three looming fiscal deadlines and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

However, the fate of Obama's plan could ultimately hinge on a handful of moderate Democratic senators. Although they are unlikely to endorse the president's call for banning assault weapons, they might go along with other proposals, such as requiring universal background checks on gun purchases.

The question now is how and whether that happens.

Many rank-and-file Republicans scorched Obama's proposal.

"The right to bear arms is a right, despite President Obama's disdain for the Second Amendment," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.

"This is not unconstitutional. In fact, it's one of those issues that I don't think is even close," University of Missouri-Kansas City constitutional law professor Allen Rostron said.

Rostron says this list of executive orders essentially enforce gun control laws which are already on the books, which the National Rifle Association has pushed for in recent years.

"The Second Amendment gives you the right to have a gun.  It doesn't mean it will be unregulated just as other constitutional right have limits," Rostron said. 

And Raybon says that is common-sense gun regulation that everyone can agree on.

"We have to clamp down these who are not supposed to have them, trying to keep them out of their hands because that's where a lot of the crime is," she said.

It's too early to tell if there will be a constitutional challenge to the executive powers.

Despite the uncertainty on Capitol Hill and opposition from the powerful NRA, outside groups are encouraged by polling showing public support for changes to the law. They intend to try to harness that sentiment to pressure lawmakers.

A lopsided 84 percent of Americans back broader background checks, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws, the same poll showed, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style weapons.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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