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Reps. Rice, Israel, Meeks back Obama gun-control measures; King, Zeldin call them an overreach

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) criticized the president for

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) criticized the president for going "around the Congress." Credit: GETTY IMAGES / Darren McCollester

Democrats in Long Island’s congressional delegation on Tuesday strongly backed President Barack Obama’s executive orders on gun control, while local Republicans called them an overreach.

“The president has acted within his authority because Congress repeatedly failed to do anything to address the gun violence epidemic in this country,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), a vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force who attended Obama’s announcement at the White House.

“These common-sense measures are significant steps toward closing loopholes that allow guns to end up in the hands of people who aren’t legally allowed to have them,” Rice said.

But Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) called the measures, which narrow the “gun show loophole” that exempts most small sellers from keeping formal sales records, “poll-driven rhetoric” that wouldn’t have stopped any of the nation’s recent mass shootings.

“Within our Constitution, it is clear that the president of the United States is not also Congress, nor should he ever attempt to act as both,” said Zeldin.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said in an interview that “much of what [Obama’s] proposing I would probably support through legislation.”

But “to me it’s wrong to go around the Congress,” King said. “It makes it much harder to get real legislation through.”

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) placed the blame on a Republican-led Congress that has resisted even the most-modest gun control measures.

Israel, who announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election, said in a tweet that Obama was “taking action to save American lives while [the House GOP] sits on their hands.”

Said Meeks: “From closing the gun show loophole to expanding background checks, common-sense reforms have encountered stiff opposition in a Congress emboldened by groups like the NRA.” Meeks’ district includes parts of Nassau.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “the vast majority of Americans will welcome presidential action to break the unnatural vise grip that the NRA has over safety in America.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said: “The only way we are going to make our country safer from this epidemic of gun violence is with action: We need to fix our background check system and we need to pass a federal law that actually defines gun trafficking as a crime.”

With John Asbury

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