The Obama administration is exploring tighter regulation on gun policy that can be secured through an executive order, bypassing congressional approval, officials have confirmed.
The potential crackdown has prompted concern among gun rights groups in the ongoing debate surrounding gun control and Second Amendment rights.
Administration officials said talk of executive orders or agency action are being considered, amidst its crossfire over regulations with a Republican-dominated House.
The Department of Justice held a meeting on Tuesday – the first in what is expected to be a series – to explore how the administration might be able to rule by decree.
Before the meeting, officials said topics of discussion would range from encouraging more thorough background checks and more efficient data-sharing.
An administration official told Fox News: ‘The purpose of these discussions is to be a productive exchange of good ideas from folks across the spectrum. We think that’s a good place to start.’
The news follows a report last month by the Washington Post in which President Obama is quoted saying his administration was working on gun control ‘under the radar’.
The comment was reportedly made during a private meeting with his staff on March 30.
The remark came in the wake of the January killing spree in Arizona that left Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords critically injured after she was shot at point-blank range by 22-year-old Jarod Loughner.
Six people died and another thirteen people were injured in the attack, putting gun control policy back on the forefront for debate.
Lawmakers have since offered several proposals for tighter restrictions.
However, the prospect of the White House fulfilling an agenda behind closed doors has sparked an outcry among opponents for tighter gun control.
‘As Obama has said, “under the radar”… There’s a lot going on under that radar. They’ve shown us how much they are prepared to do through regulation.’
Pratt referred to a proposal from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in which dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas would be required to report multiple sales to the same person of certain kinds of rifles.
A study released by the ATF in January that examined restricting certain shotguns from being imported to the U.S. has been heavily denounced by the National Rifle Association.
The write-up is based on a 1968 law that restricts imports of firearms to those used for ‘sporting purposes’.
Another proposal by longtime Senate gun control advocate Frank Lautenberg bans high-capacity ammunition clips, like the one that left Giffords wounded.
It has not passed on to Congress.
In March, the President addressed his concerns over gun violence to the Arizona Daily Star, supporting more thorough background checks.
While stressing his support of an individual’s right to bear arms, as protected in the Second Amendment, he defended his stance, stating ‘there’s more we can to to prevent gun violence’.
Gun-rights activists are criticising the efforts, citing a study released by the FBI in September that showed gun sales were up in 2009, while violent crimes of all types declined by 5.3 per cent.
Figures from the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) showed 14million guns were sold in 2009, the biggest year since the system began recording data in 1998.
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said enforcement of current gun control laws should be of primary concern.
Arulanandam told Fox News: ‘The American public does not support gun control… What the American public wants is for criminals to be punished for their mistakes.’