President Obama has issued two new executive orders intended to make good on his promise to curb gun violence despite Congress' rejection of his administration's proposed comprehensive gun control law.
The first order would close a loophole in current gun control laws allowing criminals to buy and sell firearms like machine guns and short-barreled shotguns without undergoing background checks by registering the guns to trusts or corporations.
Such "especially dangerous" firearms must be registered, and in order to lawfully possess them, prospective buyers must undergo fingerprint-based background checks. However, under current law, when the weapon is registered to a trust or corporation, no background check is required.
According to a White House fact sheet on the new orders, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) received more than 39,000 requests for transfers of such restricted firearms to trusts or corporations in 2012 alone.
Obama's order directs the ATF to issue a new regulation requiring individuals associated with trusts or corporations that acquire these types of firearms to undergo background checks, just as they would if the weapons were being registered to them individually.
Also See: Brady Act Gun Buyer Background Checks
The other order, which might prove especially troublesome to firearm collectors, bans most private entities from importing military grade surplus weapons sold or donated by the U.S. to its allies back into the United States.
The White House says that the government has authorized requests to re-import more than 250,000 of these firearms since 2005.
Under the new rule, only museums and a few other mainly government entities will be allowed to re-import military grade weapons.
Federal crime statistics indicate that due to the limited scope of firearms affected by this order, its actual impact on reducing gun violence is likely to be small.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, Firearms Used by Offenders, 15% of state inmates and 13% of Federal inmates carried a handgun during the offenses that put them to prison, compared to only 1.3% who carried a rifle.
The two orders announced last week are in addition to the 23 executive orders on gun control issued by the White House during January 2013 in reaction to the failure of its gun control law.
The Obama administration gun control bill rejected by Congress would have required universal gun buyer background checks, banned so-called "straw man" gun sales and authorized funding for programs to prevent gun violence in schools.
A Gallup poll conducted shortly after the issuance of those executive orders showed that a majority of Americans supported Obama's plan to reduce gun violence, including the re-enactment of an assault weapons ban.
"Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the president and vice president remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence," the White House said in a fact sheet on the new orders.