The Obama administration unexpectedly announced two new gun control measures on Thursday, including one that would curb the import of military surplus weapons — in a move that could anger collectors.
Vice President Biden announced the new measures Thursday morning. The new rules, announced while Washington was otherwise focused on the crisis in Syria, took the form of executive actions, which President Obama added to the list of 23 steps the White House already determined the president could take on his own.
The steps come after Congress declined to pass any gun control legislation earlier this year despite an aggressive White House push for action in the wake of the Newton, Conn., shooting massacre. With the political world focused on Mideast tensions and looming fiscal battles, the move signaled Obama’s intent to show he hasn’t lost sight of the issue.
The National Rifle Association, though, ripped the administration, saying its proposals would do little to reduce crime.
“The Obama administration has once again completely missed the mark when it comes to stopping violent crime,” the NRA said in a statement.
One new policy will end a government practice that lets military weapons, sold or donated by the U.S. to allies, be reimported into the U.S. by private entities. The White House said the U.S. has approved 250,000 of those guns to be reimported since 2005; under the new policy, only museums and a few other entities like the government will be eligible to reimport military-grade firearms.
The Obama administration is also proposing a federal rule to stop those who would be ineligible to pass a background check from skirting the law by registering a gun to a corporation or trust. The new rule would require people associated with those entities, like beneficiaries and trustees, to undergo the same type of fingerprint-based background checks as individuals if they want to register guns.
But the NRA said that neither measure would reduce crime, since neither the re-importation of firearms nor the corporate gun registration is known to be a source of weapons for criminals.
“Requiring background checks for corporations and trusts does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. Prohibiting the re-importation of firearms into the U.S. that were manufactured 50 or more years ago does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. This administration should get serious about prosecuting violent criminals who misuse guns and stop focusing its efforts on law-abiding gun owners,” the NRA said in a statement.