Media Contact:
Garrett McDonough, 415-433-2062 x304, [email protected]

Bold new executive orders will clarify what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms and require more gun sellers to conduct background checks.
Orders will also make background checks system more efficient, outline improvements to mental health policy, increase research into “smart gun” technology, and more.

WASHINGTON DC—The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation’s leading resource for information and analysis on gun laws, legislation, and litigation, applauds President Obama for announcing he will take action to address the epidemic of gun violence in America through a sweeping series of executive orders.

“We are so grateful to the President for stepping up to fight for lifesaving, common-sense gun policies and showing that, unlike Congress, he refuses to be intimidated by the gun lobby,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “This package of executive actions will immediately reduce the number of guns sold without a background check and help keep deadly weapons out of dangerous hands. Beyond narrowing the private sale loophole, the President plans to outline improvements to mental health record reporting, make the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System more efficient, encourage research into smart gun technology, and more. This bold action builds on the unprecedented momentum for smart gun laws in recent years, with 125 lifesaving laws passed in 41 states since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, and should serve as a rallying cry for more state and federal lawmakers to do everything they can to eliminate the uniquely American epidemic of gun violence.”

Over 117,000 Americans are shot every year, dwarfing every other industrialized nation, yet Congress has repeatedly failed to pass meaningful legislation to address the problem, in spite of the fact that over 90% of Americans support smart gun laws such as universal background checks. A large coalition of survivors and gun violence prevention advocates has been calling for the President to use his executive authority to address the loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to sidestep background checks and easily obtain firearms. The Law Center is thrilled to have been able to provide our unparalleled expertise on firearms laws and the Second Amendment to the administration to help enable this sweeping announcement.

The President’s executive orders will directly address gun violence by improving procedures in four key areas:

  • Expanding and improving background checks—By clarifying what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling guns, the administration will greatly narrow the loophole that allows many private sales of firearms to occur without a background check. The President will also order improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) to make the system more accurate, up-to-date, and efficient.
  • Making communities safer from gun violence—The White House announced that the administration will request additional resources for ATF, require firearms dealers to report lost and stolen guns, and expand domestic violence outreach efforts.
  • Increase mental health treatment and record reporting—The President has outlined improvements to the mental health care system that will increase access to treatment and encourage better reporting of relevant mental health records to NICS.
  • Gun safety technology—The President will instruct the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security to research smart gun technology that will potentially save lives by making it more difficult for unauthorized users, such as a child, intruder, or suicidal relative, from firing a gun they should not have access to.

Executive Director Robyn Thomas and the Law Center’s staff of legal experts are immediately available for interviews on the President’s executive action, or other gun law issues, in both Washington DC and San Francisco.  

To learn more about gun laws in all 50 states, including which currently require private sale background checks and which do not, visit the Law Center’s 2015 Gun Law State Scorecard at


Media Contact:
Garrett McDonough
[email protected]
415-433-2062 x304

About the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Founded in the wake of the July 1, 1993, assault weapon massacre at 101 California Street in San Francisco that left eight dead and six wounded, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is now the premier resource for legal expertise and information regarding state and federal firearms laws. Made up of the foremost gun law attorneys in the nation, our staff tracks and analyzes firearms legislation in all 50 states, files amicus briefs in critical Second Amendment cases across the country, and works with lawmakers and advocates to craft and promote legislation that will reduce gun violence and save lives. We regularly partner with other nonprofit organizations dedicated to combating the epidemic of gun violence in our country, and we invite you to explore our website,, to learn more about our work and deepen your knowledge about gun laws in America.