President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said the administration waited until now to announce executive actions on gun control because they were hoping Congress would pass something better first.
Jarrett told MSNBC this morning that if Republicans have a problem with the actions, which include expanding the definition of gun dealers to therefore expand required background checks, “they should all spend time talking to the victims of gun violence.”
Pressed on why it took so long, she replied, “Well, our first priority was to get Congress to pass an act that would have been more comprehensive.”
The National Rifle Association panned the White House’s announcement, which also includes new spending on mental health programs, new ATF agents and easing access to mental health records during the background check process, as something inflated to impress Obama’s supporters.
“This is it, really?” Jennifer Baker, an NRA official, told the New York Times. “This is what they’ve been hyping for how long now? This is the proposal they’ve spent seven years putting together? They’re not really doing anything.”
Jarrett said Obama is “going to take whatever steps he can, within his authority, to keep guns out of the hands from those who shouldn’t have them, to make our communities safe, to ensure that we’re providing the mental health resources that we need, to make sure that Americans are as healthy as they can be, and to invest in smart technology.”
“What the ATF is doing today is giving guidance that says that it doesn’t matter where you buy a gun, whether it’s in a store or in a gun show, or on the Internet. If you’re in the business of selling guns, you need to get a license and you need to make sure that you do background checks on the people to whom you sell them. And that’s an important step,” she said.
“…And what the president has said is that the American people have a lot of power too, and that when their voices are heard, they’ll be more powerful than the NRA.”
Jarrett added that she’s “met with gun owners around our country who share the president’s priority.”
“What we’re saying is, look, we still want to put pressure on Congress to do the right thing, and we’re going to need the American people to help us do that,” she continued. “But in the meantime, the president is going to take the steps that he can to keep guns out of the wrong hands, improve our technology, make our background check system more efficient, bring in digital services to make it work 24 hours a day, provide mental health resources — a half a billion dollars to help with mental health — make sure that Social Security Administration is giving data about people who have disabilities that put them at risk of hurting themselves or others into our background check system.”
“…This is an ongoing process that the president is committed to. Nothing has frustrated him more than Congress’ unwillingness to act on this issue since he’s been in office.”