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January 05, 2016

NRA, Toomey respond to Obama's gun orders

Gun group calls president's actions 'political rhetoric'

The National Rifle Association, the largest gun advocacy group in the United States, has issued a response to President Barack Obama's executive actions on firearms announced Tuesday.

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who was applauded by many for introducing gun legislation back three years ago, also chimed in. A Republican, he distanced himself from Obama.

Calling the actions "political rhetoric," the NRA called Obama's speech Tuesday announcing the actions a "condescending lecture," chiding the president for becoming visibly emotional when discussing the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting which took the lives of 20 children.

Obama's executive orders, which bypass a Republican-controlled Congress that has overwhelmingly opposed gun control legislation, center around redefining who gun dealers are by expanding it from only federally licensed dealers to anyone "in the business" of selling firearms to a dealer.

The goal is to increase the amount of buyers subject to background checks, which as of now only includes those purchasing from federal dealers.

In their response, the NRA does not comment specifically on the orders themselves, but does say the actions won't prevent the deaths from mass shootings that have plagued the country in recent years.

Here is the full statement from the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris W. Cox:

Once again, President Obama has chosen to engage in political rhetoric, instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation's pressing problems. Today's event also represents an ongoing attempt to distract attention away from his lack of a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe from terrorist attack.
The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts. The men and women of the National Rifle Association take a back seat to no one when it comes to keeping our communities safe. But the fact is that President Obama's proposals would not have prevented any of the horrific events he mentioned. The timing of this announcement, in the eighth and final year of his presidency, demonstrates not only political exploitation but a fundamental lack of seriousness.
The proposed executive actions are ripe for abuse by the Obama Administration, which has made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment. The NRA will continue to fight to protect the fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms as guaranteed under our Constitution. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be harassed or intimidated for engaging in lawful, constitutionally-protected activity – nor will we allow them to become scapegoats for President Obama's failed policies.

Toomey's response was less damning, but still disapproving, citing the circumvention of Congress. He and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia had introduced legislation to expand background checks in 2013, a measure that Obama said Tuesday he would support.

He said to reporters Tuesday that the president "needed to follow the law," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here's what he said, via the newspaper:

“The fact that Congress doesn’t do something, whether or not I happen to personally agree (with) it, doesn’t give the president the legal authority to do it,” he said. “We have a constitution, we are a democratic republic, and presidents are not kings or dictators, they don’t get to make our laws themselves.”

Pennsylvania's other U.S. senator, Democrat Bob Casey, on Tuesday said he was in favor of the actions.

He said the actions could potentially save lives, according to Lancaster Online, and urged Congress to take action on gun violence as well. Here's his statement, via Lancaster Online: 

“While there’s no law that can prevent every instance of violence, Congress owes it to those who have been affected by gun violence to consider proposals that can decrease the likelihood of mass shootings,” Casey said in a statement. “This year Congress should devote a substantial amount of floor time to debate strategies to reduce gun violence.”

Obama's actions have received extreme backlash from GOP presidential candidates, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who called him a "petulant child" in advance of Tuesday's announcement.

The president's actions are expected to be met with a legislative fight from Congress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.