US President Barack Obama began his final year in office by making gun control and gun safety a top priority for his administration. Through a package of executive actions, Obama is taking the issue into his own hands and bypassing the Republican-led Congress, which has failed to act on gun control despite repeated calls to action.


At the top of the executive orders list is an effort to expand background checks on gun sales. The Obama administration wants to force more sellers to register as federally licensed gun dealers in an attempt to limit sellers who avoid the background checks by selling their weapons privately at gun shows or online. Other changes include improving reporting lost or stolen weapons and boosting guns safety technology. 


This isn’t the first time Obama orders executive actions on guns. In 2013 he signed 23 of them on gun safety followed by two in early 2014. Yet, more than 30,000 people die from guns in the US each year and last year, 355 mass shootings took place in 336 days.


The new orders, however, are being described as the boldest so far. But Obama’s decision to move forward without congressional approval is already generating a political showdown with Republicans who are vowing to undo any actions he takes.


So in a country that has by far the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, how much of a difference will Obama’s executive orders make? 


In this episode of The Stream, we talk to:

Bindu Kalesan @MadisonsIntent
Vice President, Gun Violence Survivors Foundation

Geraldine Hills @gahills14
Founder, Arizonans for Gun Safety

John Lott @JohnRLottJr
President, Crime Prevention Research Center

Sgt. Howard Ray
Survivor of Gun Violence Against Gun Control


What impact will Pres. Obama’s unilateral gun control decisions have on gun violence in the US?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.