WASHINGTON -- Half a year after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), the Obama administration is set to release a series of reforms to the current gun law, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday.
The reforms, which are being crafted by the Department of Justice, come after a series of meetings with relevant stakeholders in the Second Amendment debate. But in a nod to the difficulties of getting legislation through a Republican-run House of Representatives, only executive orders or administrative actions -- and not an actual bill -- are expected to be handed to Congress.
Administration officials were coy on the specifics, from the reforms the Department of Justice would recommend or when it would actually make those recommendations.
"The president directed the Attorney General to form working groups with key stakeholders to identify common sense measures that would improve American safety and security while fully respecting Second Amendment rights," Carney said at Thursday's briefing. "That process is well underway at the Department of Justice with stakeholders on all sides working through these complex issues and we expect to have more specific announcements in the near future."
Just how near? Carney would only say "not far in the future." Another administration official said weeks would be an appropriate measurement.
When the recommendations do come, it will represent the most comprehensive move on the gun control front from this administration to date. The president has largely punted on the issue since entering the White House, save issuing carefully worded reactions to Supreme Court rulings on local gun laws or bans.
The Giffords shooting had, seemingly, upped the pressure to implement reforms. Obama himself used the occasion to pen an op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star advocating for stronger state-to-state coordination with respect to gun data, expedited background checks and greater enforcement of the laws already on the books. The Department of Justice meetings commenced not too long later and have continued over the course of several months, according to an administration official. They are now finished.
The end result, one source close to the discussions said, was a package of reforms "not huge in scope." They are largely expected to mirror the topics covered in the president's op-ed. Gun control advocates have pushed for more, including legislation that would limit the size of magazines -- such as the 32-round magazine that Giffords' shooter used -- or a bill that would force private sellers to conduct background checks at gun shows -- which was pushed in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting.
Still, executive actions offer something that legislation doesn't: guaranteed results. And as one gun control advocate told the Huffington Post, there are ways to "use these administrative changes to obtain similar results."
This post has been updated