AP Exclusive: Obama offers new gun control steps

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration announced new steps Thursday on gun control, curbing the import of military surplus weapons and proposing to close a loophole that lets felons and others circumvent background checks by registering guns to corporations.

The administration has failed to find support in Congress for its gun control proposals this year. The issue became a top one for President Barack Obama after a gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at a Connecticut school in December.

Obama has added two more executive actions to a list of 23 steps the White House determined Obama could take on his own to reduce gun violence.

Vice President Joe Biden was set to unveil the new actions Thursday at the White House.

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, where some may end up on the streets. 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 getting around 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.

Thursday’s event will also mark the ceremonial swearing-in for Todd Jones, whose confirmation to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after six years of political wrangling to fill that position was another of Obama’s priorities after the December shooting.

Still out of reach for Obama were the steps that gun control advocates and the administration say could most effectively combat gun violence in the U.S., such as an assault weapons ban and fewer exceptions for background checks for individual sales. Only Congress can act on those fronts.

Efforts to address those issues died in the Senate amid opposition from the National Rifle Association gun lobby and most Republican senators.

These days, Obama mentions gun control far less often. And with immigration and pressing fiscal issues dominating Congress’ agenda, the prospects for reviving gun legislation appear negligible.

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Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed.

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