Obama’s Gun-Related Executive Order, Explained for You

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama signed an executive order regarding gun policies and background checks in the US. This comes after a year of crazy-high instances of gun violence around the country, and some serious struggles for Congress to agree on what to do about it (hint: the Dems want stricter gun laws, and the GOP wants better healthcare reform and more adherence to their right to bear arms). But what is an executive order, and what’s Obama’s all about? The nitty gritty of politics can be kind of confusing, which is why we broke it down for you:

What is an executive order anyways?

Executive orders are exactly what they sound like: orders coming from the executive (the President). These things let the President bypass Congress, which normally votes on potential laws the President writes, and make laws on his own.

You’re probably thinking: why doesn’t the President just make all of his laws this way? For starters, doing this would make him incredibly unpopular. There’s also the Constitution, which does put limits on the President’s power and the kinds of laws that he makes. If he (or eventually she) goes willy nilly, these executive orders would get repealed pretty quickly, and the President could face some pretty pissed off people in DC.

President Obama recently made an executive order regarding gun laws because he thought Congress needed a little more hustle on that front. As you might recall, the US has had a teensy issue with mass shootings for the past few years, and the President thinks stricter gun laws are the way to reduce those shootings. Too bad a bunch of people in Congress don’t agree.

So what does Obama’s do?

Contrary to what some folks are saying, these executive actions do not take away anyone’s guns. What they do is close some background check loopholes.

Most notably, Obama’s actions are going to close what people call the “gun show loophole.” Don’t let the name fool you -- it almost entirely has nothing to do with gun shows.

The gun show loophole basically means that when a private gun sale occurs -- whether it be at a gun show, over the internet, or between father and son -- the seller doesn’t have to perform a background check on the recipient. This loophole was made to keep those selling to close friends and family members (think passing down an antique musket or something cool like that from parent to child) from having to go through the trouble of a background check.

The problem that’s arising, President Obama says, is that these “private” sellers aren’t so private anymore.

Thanks to the good old internet, sellers are able to claim private sales with buyers they find online, so people are able to acquire guns without a background check. Obama’s executive actions make it so that all of these sellers are required to register as sellers, therefore requiring them to perform background checks on their buyers. The Obama admin says this should help prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.

And we care because…?

Psst… #ICYMI, Obama had to bypass Congress to get this done, meaning he went around a giant group of people (think GOP) who don’t completely agree with these policies. This is not only pretty crazy because it highlights how fervently President Obama feels about this issue, but also because it means there’s a pretty darn good chance this issue is going to be even more important in the upcoming elections. As in, if someone from the GOP ends up in office, these laws are almost definitely going to be overturned. Yeah, this is that kind of huge.