Three Simple Steps

Three Simple Steps

Yes, no new gun-control legislation can make it through this Congress, but that doesn’t mean President Obama’s hands are completely tied.

In a speech to the Urban League in New Orleans on Wednesday, President Obama decried daily urban gun violence—equal in toll, he said, to an Aurora, Colo., mass shooting every day—but he glossed over what gun-control advocates say is his own record of failing to use existing executive power to tighten access to the deadliest firearms.

“There’s talk of new reforms, and there’s talk of new legislation,” Obama told the Urban League, setting the table for a “don’t-blame-me-blame-Congress” explanation for policy drift. “And, too often, those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere.”

Gun-control proponents and dozens of congressional Democrats vehemently disagree. Although Obama can’t take action that would have prevented the Batman movie shootings, the president has all the power he needs right now—as well as a precedent set by a Republican predecessor—to crack down on some assault-weapon sales. And Obama, despite three years of pleas from these Democrats, is not using it.

The president could make three moves:

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