by Joseph Gerth, @Joe_Gerth –
One question asked by Open Range owner Barry Laws was why not allow licensed gun dealers access the government’s stolen gun database. Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal
Stymied by Congress on the issue of gun control, the Obama administration plans to push states and local governments to enact expanded background checks and other gun control measures during its last seven months in office.
“We’ll certainly be focusing on the continued drumbeat of enhanced background checks,” said Jerry Abramson, President Barack Obama’s director of intergovernmental affairs.
Lars Dalseide, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Abramson, in a telephone interview, said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to let stand Connecticut’s law banning assault weapons has given the White House reason to believe that state and local gun control laws may offer the best chance of getting legislation passed.
“I think you’ll see us taking on all the domestic issues, including that issue, now that the Supreme Court has said that local communities and states can move in that direction,” he said.
Since he went to the White House in November 2014, Abramson said his job has been to focus on issues where Congress has failed to act, such as criminal justice reform, free community college and raising the minimum wage.
Weapons again came to the forefront on June 12 when a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49 and injuring 53 others. Omar Mateen, the gunman who was killed when police raided the nightclub, pledged in a call to authorities his loyalty to the Islamic State and had previously been on the FBI’s terror watch list.
The Senate took up four gun measures on Monday, including two that would have made it more difficult for those on the watch list to obtain weapons. All four failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has introduced a compromise measure intended to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists but it was unclear if or when it would come to a vote.
Abramson said it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Obama plans to focus on the issue of guns as his administration ends.
“We have been in this space for quite a while…and the president has been pretty strong after each and every mass shooting tragedy that we’ve had,” he said. “The president has said we need to expand background checks and we need to, if you can’t fly on an airplane, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.”
Abramson, who while Louisville mayor in 1989 helped take the dead and wounded out of the Standard Gravure building after a gunman opened fire with an assault weapon there, noted that Obama has “taken a strong position against assault weapons. You don’t shoot deer with an assault weapon.”
Local legislation may not be the best approach but it may be the only way to pass legislation.
“In my opinion, it’s not the smartest approach to have a patchwork quilt around the country, you’d rather have it on a national basis,” he said.
Reporter Joseph Gerth can be reached at 502-582-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.