Obama Will Prioritize Gun Control In 2016 & He's Likely To Make A Big Move Via Executive Action

When he campaigned for the White House back in 2008, President Obama promised to bring hope and change back into the country. At the time, Americans were weary from years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffering through a devastating financial crisis. As his presidency progressed, though, it has become clear that one area the country needs hope and change most is related to gun violence — and as the last year of his presidency kicks off, Obama will seriously prioritize gun control in 2016.

The president has made it clear for years that he wants to change gun laws in the United States, but deep-rooted debate and opposition, particularly from groups like the National Rifle Association, have made this difficult. Now that the new year has rolled around, Obama has a limited amount of time to affect the overwhelming issue that has dominated the latter half of his presidency. Perhaps that's why the president announced on Friday, just before the start of the new year, that making progress on gun violence is his New Year's resolution.

So my New Year's resolution is to move forward with our unfinished business ... That's especially true for one piece of unfinished business: our epidemic of gun violence.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The resolution isn't the only hint that Obama is gearing up for a big move on gun control. He will meet on Monday with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss his options for making a move. Then, he'll participate in a live town hall on Thursday, at which time he'll respond to questions from CNN's Anderson Cooper and members of the audience for the event titled "Guns in America." On Friday, the president will likely commemorate the fifth anniversary of the shooting in Arizona that killed six and wounded 14, including former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

At some point in the near future, Obama is expected to announce his big move on gun control, which will almost certainly come in the form of an executive action. Getting any measured piece of legislation on gun control through Congress seems highly unlikely given the Republican majorities in both houses. In issuing an executive action, President Obama will likely try to expand background check requirements for gun purchases.

In the months leading up to 2016, Obama made it clear that he would prioritize gun control in the last year of his presidency. Depending on how you look at it, he certainly had several opportunities to do so because of the recent tragedies in San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, and other cities. In October, Obama administration sources told NBC News that the president was considering preparing executive actions in the wake of deadly shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, at Umpqua Community College. Then, in an interview in GQ back in November, Obama said that he hoped gun control would be a "dominant" issue in 2016. Last week, just before Christmas, Obama tweeted his support for the NBA's new anti-gun violence ad campaign.

The president and the country have wrestled with the issue of gun violence for years, but it seems particularly urgent in the new year thanks to recent tragedies that have rocked cities across the U.S. Gun control has always been a divisive issue, but these public shootings could be increasing support for new regulations, but it's unclear whether that support will last. In other words, now could be an opportune time for President Obama to make his move.