The area’s two congressmen pointedly criticized President Barack Obama for using executive actions to narrow the so-called gun show loophole that exempts certain small firearm sellers from obtaining licenses and conducting background checks.
U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, said the president “is subverting our Constitution’s separation of powers and is attempting to legislate from the Oval Office.”
His colleague, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, said. “Obama’s attempt to infringe on the rights of millions of law-abiding citizens is truly reprehensible, and I will fight against this overreach every step of the way.”
Currently, only licensed dealers must conduct background checks, per federal law, but many who sell firearms at flea markets or gun shows, on websites or in other informal settings do not register. Going forward, anybody “in the business of selling firearms ... must get a license and conduct background checks,” according to a fact sheet from the White House’s press office.
The new guidelines will not apply to those who buy and trade as collectors.
“Rewriting acts of Congress while undermining the Second Amendment is a bald attempt to criminalize the behavior of law-abiding citizens,” Rothfus, from Pennsylvania’s 12th district, said.
“Instead of blatantly disregarding the Constitution, the president must work with Congress to enact legislation to punish criminals, as well as to address the mental illness that consistently underlies horrible acts of gun violence.”
Shuster, the 9th district’s representative, alluded to recent acts of violence that drew national attention when elaborating upon his opposition to Obama’s actions.
“Whether it is radical Islamic terrorists or mentally deranged individuals, one thing is clear – stricter gun control measures would not have stopped these tragedies from occurring,” Shuster said.
He continued: “While this action by the president may please some of his liberal supporters I fear that it will ultimately make my constituents feel less safe and set a dangerous precedent for even more anti-Second Amendment actions by the government in the future.”
When discussing ways to address gun violence, Shuster mentioned his support for the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act that, in his opinion, “would significantly reform our mental health system and increase treatment options for individuals that badly need help.”