The moves, which have not been widely touted by the administration, come as Obama ups his pressure on Congress to take action on gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The Senate is expected to begin floor consideration of legislation when it returns in April.
Efforts to renew a ban in semi-automatic weapons with military-style features and high-capacity magazines have stalled in Congress. Democratic senators still hope to move gun control legislation that includes tougher background checks, but conservative Republican senators have threatened to filibuster it.
If approved by the Senate, any bill would then face tough sledding in the GOP-controlled House.
Gun control groups say Obama’s piecemeal approach falls short of what could be accomplished by legislation overhauling the nation’s gun laws. Still, they argue the actions remain important and will reduce gun violence.
“They’ve taken direct aim at some of the bigger problems in the regulatory part of the issue and they’re doing it in the right way and that’s going to be very helpful,” said Mark Glaze, the director of Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns group.