Jan 21 2016

AL.com: Shelby challenges Loretta Lynch at Senate hearing on Obama's executive actions on gun control

In his opening statement at the hearing, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange called the president's executive actions on gun control an "unwarranted assault on the Second Amendment." He also said the measures would be ineffective.

 "Further limiting the ability of responsible citizens to buy guns won't keep criminals from getting one," Strange said. "The law enforcement officers in my state... believe these actions will not have a meaningful impact."

Strange said less than one percent of illegal gun purchases are conducted of gun shows, and of those, fewer are involved in violent crimes.

While he applauded Obama for including $500 million in mental health funding in his orders, he criticized the president for unilaterally making that decision.

Under questioning from Shelby, Strange said Obama and Congress's highest priority should be beefing funding to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. Strange said it was only within the last year that Alabama received money to put its information into the federal database, which is used to help states make technology upgrades to help them better share data on criminals.

Original story: U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended President Obama's executive actions on gun control after being challenged by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., during a hearing Wednesday held by the senator's appropriations subcommittee.

Shelby, who heads the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies and chaired the hearing, said he was "very concerned" about the executive orders, which he claimed were an example of overreach by the president and unlawful.

 "It's clear to me that the American people are fearful that President Obama is eager to strip them of their Second Amendment rights," Shelby said. He accused the president of being "more interested in grandstanding and engaging in anti-gun theatrics" than solving problems on gun violence.

Lynch said she believed Obama was acting within his authority because the executive actions, which included expanding background checks to include all sales at gun shows and online purchases, didn't expand on existing law, but clarified those laws.

 "They are consistent with the Constitution," she said. "The actions announced by this president... are fully consistent with the laws passed by Congress. ... They clarify existing laws that are already on the books."

But Shelby pointed out that the executive orders would have done nothing to prevent the country's most high-profile mass shootings, such as the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School or the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, a Colorado movie theater or the San Bernardino attacks.

 While Lynch couldn't cite a measure in the executive actions that would have thwarted any of those attacks, she said that doesn't mean the administration shouldn't take steps to make sure guns are purchased lawfully.

She said the measures would help combat illegal gun sales on the "dark net," or a portion of the Internet not accessible to the "average consumer." The dark net, also known as the "dark Web," is where illicit transactions are made, including guns and drugs.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange was also expected to testify at the hearing. This story will be updated once he gives his testimony.