FRANKFORT, Ky (WHAS11) -- U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said Wednesday he is ready to lead the congressional fight against any gun control actions signed by President Barack Obama which violate the law or constitution.
"We're not going to roll over and play dead for the President on this," Paul said to reporters in Frankfort.
While proposing legislation which includes universal background checks, the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban and limiting the capacity of ammunition clips, President Obama also announced 23 executive actions he plans to enact without congressional approval. Those actions include making federal background checks more widely available and tracing seized guns.
"If any of them come out and I think they run afoul of what we have passed as legislation or what the constitution says in the Second Amendment, I will introduce legislation to overturn these," Paul said. "Executive orders can be overturned and cannot run afoul of legislation. And that is the current law. If he tries to create legislation out of whole cloth, I will oppose him."
"We will introduce that very rapidly," Paul said. "We are working on legislation now. We're also reading the executive orders today and we'll see."
Paul expects many Democrats to join him.
"Many Democrats support the Second Amendment and that's why they're not proposing these things as legislation," Paul said. "because they know many Democrats will oppose infringements of the Second Amendment."
Louisville Democrat U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky) supports the President's actions, but concedes the gun control battle is an uphill fight.
"I don't think that the odds of passing an assault weapons ban are very good," Yarmuth told WHAS11 News. "I'm for one. I would like to see it on the agenda but I think we are more likely to pass some other measures such as universal background checks and some limitation on high capacity magazines."
Crediting the President’s leadership on the issue, Yarmuth vows to advance the legislation and believes the lesser measures could help lead to more comprehensive gun control laws.
Kentuckiana Republicans in Congress insist that constitutionally protected rights not be sacrificed in the name of safety.
U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie said he will review the President's recommendations but suggests a focus on "mental health issues as opposed to infringing on the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens."
“We need to focus on the issue at the core of many of these tragedies," Guthrie said. "Improving mental health care is critical to ensure that future incidences of violence are avoided and that people who are mentally ill cannot access weapons."
In a statement, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's office said Kentucky's senior senator will continue to "defend the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Kentuckians."
"While the administration acknowledged that there is much more to be done to enforce existing law, Sen. McConnell’s first test of any new legislation the majority leader decides to bring before the Senate will be on whether or not it infringes on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms," the statement read.
U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) also stressed the rights of gun owners.
“As we learn more about the president’s proposals, we must protect Second Amendment rights and ensure the federal government does not punish responsible gun owners," Coats said in a statement. "I will not support legislation or executive actions that would affect gun ownership rights for law-abiding citizens, including any assault weapons ban."
After attending the White House announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also released a statement describing himself as a "strong supporter of the 2nd amendment," yet suggesting support for the administration's proposal.
"We need to have an honest debate in this country about assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips," Fischer said. "We also need to address the serious issue of mental health and illness. I hope leaders at all levels of government in this country are actively engaged in this dialogue. This is critical to our violence prevention work in Louisville as well as a common-sense element of our compassionate city.”