- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah Sen. Mike Lee urged his supporters to fight back against President Barack Obama’s latest gun-control proposal in an email sent Thursday - a day after the Republican took a more neutral stance and said it sounded as if the plan wouldn’t have a big effect.

Lee sent out an email Thursday morning urging supporters “to fight back with me against President Obama and his liberal, anti-gun allies” by adding their names and email addresses to a petition on his campaign website. The message said the president “has been searching for a way to go after our guns for years,” and “he fired a major warning shot.”

Earlier this week, Obama announced a plan to expand mandatory background checks to gun shows, flea markets and online sales and add more than 230 examiners and staff to help process them. It would also more narrowly define who is a gun dealer.

On Wednesday, Lee told reporters in Salt Lake City that “not a whole lot that changed and exactly what will change remains a little bit unclear.”

Lee said he thinks federal law already makes it clear who is a gun dealer but “there’s nothing wrong with any president taking a look at how they’re implementing a statute to make sure that they’re interpreting it properly.”

Lee said it’s not clear what exactly the president will do, but it would be a problem if Obama starts requiring someone to run a background check on a friend or neighbor before selling a firearm.

Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee’s Senate office, said the senator’s stance on Obama’s announcement did not change from Wednesday to Thursday. Carroll directed questions about the email to Lee’s campaign.

Boyd Matheson, Lee’s campaign consultant, said there is no discrepancy between the statements. Matheson said the president has signaled he wants to undermine 2nd Amendment rights and that he won’t engage with Congress on the issue.

“This is more a heads up of what is likely to come from the president and why we need to be paying attention,” Matheson said.

The core of Obama’s plan is new federal guidance that clarifies who is “in the business” of selling firearms and must get a federal license and run background checks on prospective buyers. Obama wants to narrow that to include more firearms sold a gun shows, flea markets and online.

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