Lynch: Obama's executive actions on guns are lawful

Story highlights

  • Lynch told a Senate committee that Obama's executive actions on guns are "consistent with the Constitution"
  • She sought to assure lawmakers of the legality of the President's executive actions and that the administration wasn't "chipping away at the Second Amendment"

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama's recent executive actions on gun control laws are "well within existing legal authorities," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday.

The measures, intended to curb violence by clarifying existing laws to enhance compliance and strengthen background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands, are "consistent with the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court and the laws passed by Congress," Lynch told a Senate Appropriations hearing.
She sought to assure lawmakers of the legality of the President's executive actions and that the administration wasn't "chipping away at the Second Amendment," as subcommittee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, warned the actions may do.
Citing the Gun Control Act, which lists people such as felons or domestic abusers who are not allowed to purchase a firearm, as well as the Heller Case, where the Supreme Court clarified and held up Second Amendment rights, Lynch said the steps taken by the President are lawful and "built on work that's already underway."
While Lynch said she "has no illusions that these measures by themselves will end gun violence in America," they may have prevented the Charleston church mass shooting with enhancements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database.
In addition, Lynch said some 1,300 guns each year recovered from crime scenes turn out to be lost or stolen, and that the executive actions would result in law enforcement's ability to begin investigations sooner.
With more than 23 million background checks going through the NICS system last year, a system Lynch characterized as "overwhelmed," the Justice Department would need $121 million to hire new NICS employees in addition to moving to a fully electronic platforms in order to implement Obama's executive actions, she said.