WASHINGTON – Much of the debate over guns during the presidential campaign has focused on big proposals to expand background checks for gun sales or restore a national assault weapons ban.
But a series of smaller steps by the Obama administration during the past several years have enraged gun rights supporters.
Besides a highly publicized expansion of background checks for gun-show sales and online purchases in January, about a dozen other White House actions show how much the next president can affect gun policy, even without Congressional approval, gun rights advocates say.
The Obama administration’s moves have included barring a type of ammunition and halting the import of guns collected by some enthusiasts.
Advocates of gun restrictions say the steps are necessary given Congress’ unwillingness to pass such controls as universal background checks, despite large support in national opinion polls.
“The White House is limited in terms of what they can do without the backing and support of Congress. President Obama and his administration have explored all possibilities in response to the violence,” said Po Murray, chairman of the Newtown Action Alliance, founded after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in an interview.