CT Senators: Executive Order will survive court challenge

- FILE - U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (left) and Richard Blumenthal (right) (WTNH)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Executive Orders announced today by President Obama were clearly motivated by the tragedy at Sandy Hook three years ago that took the lives of 26 children and educators in one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

After the failure of the effort to close the so-called ‘Gun Show Loophole’ in the U.S. Senate, Connecticut political leaders have been among those urging the President to act on his own.

Connecticut state lawmakers from both parties passed, and the Governor signed, one of the toughest gun control laws in the nation just 120 days after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Connecticut U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal were among the first officials to arrive at Newtown three years ago on that tragic day, and last night, they were among just 13 members of Congress to be with President Obama and the U.S. Attorney General to go over these new Executive Orders.

Gov. Malloy was present at the White House Tuesday when the President announced them.

Executive Orders do not change the law, but are directives to federal agencies to carry out existing law. In this case, it appears to be an expansion of an existing law to catch up with the times.

Currently, when you purchase a gun at a gun shop; the gun dealer must submit your name for a federal background check. In Connecticut, you must also get a state gun permit even to buy ammunition, a part of the new law passed after Sandy Hook.

When the federal background check law was first passed, most gun sales were made at federally licensed gun stores. But now, it is believed the majority of gun sales are made at gun shows and by private sellers on the internet where no background check has been required.

The President’s Executive Order will require these private sellers to also get a federal gun dealer’s license and conduct the same background checks on gun buyers. “To make sure that the places where the lion’s share of guns are being sold today; gun shows and websites, apply background checks as well,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

Like the President’s Executive Orders on immigration last year, these are also expected to face a court challenge, but gun control advocates believe these will survive a challenge.

The Supreme Court has already upheld the prohibition of gun sales to convicted felons, drug addicts and domestic abusers discovered through background checks. Adds Sen. Blumenthal (D-Conn.,) “They have also upheld that there are certain categories of sellers that can be required to be licensed and do background checks.”

The head of the state’s largest gun owners group, Scott Wilson of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, says that President Obama conveniently used the Sandy Hook School shooting as a launching pad for a press conference about Background Checks, and that, “The president should be reminded that the guns used in Sandy Hook were not purchased illegally through a failed system. They were stolen from Lanza’s mother where he then murdered her”.

The head of the 20,000 member group goes on to say “The President could have proposed legislation that would increase penalties for those who perpetrate violent criminal acts (with or without the use of a firearm) and stiffer penalties for straw purchasers.”

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