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Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch said Monday that President Barack Obama's planned executive orders to expand background checks on gun purchases to anyone selling such weapons is a "mistake" and playing politics rather than making sound policy.
Obama is expected on Tuesday to issue unilateral orders, in the absence of congressional action, to expand background checks to anyone selling guns a move that closes what some say is a loophole exempting private sales and gun shows.
Hatch says Obama should continue to work through the legislative process rather than limit constitutional rights by executive order.
"Important discussions about our fundamental freedoms are best suited for the legislative process, and once again, President Obama would rather play politics than take the time to make sound policy, based on consensus, that can succeed in both preserving Americans' cherished rights and keeping us safe," Hatch said in a statement Monday evening.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that there is "executive authority that would keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them."
"There are common-sense steps that he can take, using his authority, that do not undermine the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans," Earnest said. "But we have to do something in this country to address the consequences of Congress's failure to act."
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said that he's still reviewing Obama's executive actions, but he's "troubled" that the president "continues to ignore the constitutional role of Congress."
"The silver lining is that just like any executive action, this one could be rescinded if it doesn't have the support of the American people," Stewart said. "I continue to hope this president will respect the proper role of Congress in crafting legislation. I am not optimistic. It may be a long year."
Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, added that this was another "sad example" of Obama's overreach.
"The president, as he has with his previous executive orders, is presenting a false choice based on fear," Love said. "Governing by executive order is divisive and actually prevents us from having the deeper dialogue and meaningful debate the American people want and deserve."
Among the steps Obama plans to take on Tuesday is ordering the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that "it doesn't matter where you conduct your business from a store, at gun shows or over the Internet: If you're in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks," according to the White House.
The ATF, the White House said, will also require background checks for people trying to buy "some of the most dangerous weapons" through a trust, corporation or other legal entity.