EDITORIAL: Obama finally acts

The York Dispatch

President Obama's executive action on gun control didn't lead to widespread revolt among the God-fearing, pistol-packing masses.

He was criticized, of course, by some on the far right — our own Rep. Scott Perry among them — but overall the response was relatively muted after last week's announcement.

Perhaps that's because most responsible gun owners see the president's actions for the common-sense measures they are.

An emotional President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the youngest victims of the Sandy Hook shootings, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, where he spoke about steps his administration is taking to reduce gun violence. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

At its heart, Obama’s plan does little more than strengthen existing laws, closing loopholes in an attempt to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and mentally unstable people already prohibited from owning them.

Basically, the executive action — which Obama said he took only after Congress failed to act — expands and clarifies the definition of gun dealers.

Under current law, the Associated Press reported, only federally licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks on buyers.

But at gun shows, websites and flea markets, sellers often skirt that requirement by declining to register as licensed dealers.

Under the new rules, if a buyer is legally able to own a gun, she'll get one; if she's not, she won't. There's no change whatsoever.

The difference is more gun sales will be subject to existing background checks.

“This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns,” it should go without saying but the president said anyway.

Obama is not the bogeyman Second Amendment fanatics feared — but he hasn't exactly been the strong leader on gun control that we need, either.

We support Obama's executive action, but we also note he acted after the 12th major mass shooting on his watch — and in his final year in office, when there would be a relatively small political price to pay.

It has become so common for him to address the nation after such tragedies that he's also known as the "consoler in chief."

Over seven years he has regularly appeared grief-stricken, angry, incredulous, even, at the state of affairs -- but he didn't act until just last week.

It was the right thing to do, of course.

We just think it was the right thing to do years ago