The National Rifle Association dismissed the administration's moves as misdirected.
"Requiring background checks for corporations and trusts does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals," the NRA's Andrew Arulanandam said. "Prohibiting the re-importation of firearms into the U.S. that were manufactured 50 or more years ago does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. This administration should get serious about prosecuting violent criminals who misuse guns and stop focusing its efforts on law-abiding gun owners."
In announcing the steps in the White House Roosevelt Room, Biden also swore in 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 post-Newtown priorities. A Senate deal to approve the president's pending nominations after Democrats threatened to change Senate rules cleared the way for Jones' confirmation last month.
Still out of reach for Obama were the steps that gun control advocates and the administration's own review say could most effectively combat gun violence in the U.S., like an assault weapons ban and fewer exceptions for background checks for individual sales. Only Congress can act on those fronts.
Although Obama and Biden have said the fight is not over, there is scant evidence that there is more support for gun control legislation than there was in April, when efforts died in the Senate amid staunch opposition from the National Rifle Association and most Republican senators.
"Sooner or later, we are going to get this right," Obama said that day in the White House Rose Garden, with the families of Newtown victims and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — herself a victim of a gunman — at his side. "The memories of these children demand it, and so do the American people," the president said at the time.