In a move that is certain to stir things up as the political new year unfolds, President Obama will lead a televised town hall Thursday to address tightening restrictions on access to guns. The commander in chief will sit down with Anderson Cooper on CNN at 8 PM ET for the one-hour event titled “Guns in America,” which coincides with Friday’s fifth anniversary of the mass shooting in Arizona that left six dead and 13 others wounded including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ.
Obama also will take questions from the audience. The president repeatedly has expressed his frustration with Congress’ unwillingness to pass new gun laws during his term and has spoken out frequently about increased gun control in the wake of mass shootings. Obama has vowed to make gun violence a cornerstone of his final year in office. In his weekly radio address on Saturday, he called the issue “one piece of unfinished business.”
Obama also plans to meet Monday with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss options for tougher gun restrictions and is expected to announce soon an executive action with the goal of expanding background checks on gun sales.
Plans for the action are not complete, and unforeseen circumstances could delay an announcement. But gun control advocates are expecting the new actions to be revealed next week, ahead of Obama’s annual State of the Union Address on January 12.
Gun control advocates and White House officials say the focus remains on the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows certain sellers of guns — at gun shows and elsewhere — to avoid conducting background checks before making sales.
Congress still would need to act in order to make background checks universal. But advocates and administration lawyers have struck upon a provision in the law that could allow for Obama to expand the background check requirement to additional sellers.