US gun law
Gun control activists rally in front of the White House in Washington, January 4, 2016. President Barack Obama is expected to announce new gun control curbs on Tuesday, 5 January 2015.Reuters

US President Barack Obama seeks to bring in extensive background checks for gun buyers and licenses for firearm sellers through executive actions, in face of opposition from Republican rivals. 

Obama will announce his plans on Tuesday that will include policies he says are aimed at reducing gun violence in the country. 

According to the White House, more than 100,000 people have been killed in gun violence in the past decade in the US. It also said that applications for buying dangerous weapons shot up from 900 applications in 2000 to more than 90,000 applications in 2014. 

Under the new system, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will hire more than 230 additional examiners to help process background checks of gun buyers 24/7. 

The Obama administration has also put the onus on gun sellers to get themselves licensed and conduct background checks. Those selling guns without proper licences will face five years in prison and can be fined up to $250,000.

"The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making clear that it doesn't matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you're in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks," the White House statement said on Monday. 

The Obama administration has also proposed a $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care, and include information in the background check system about those prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.

It has also planned to include funds for 200 new ATF agents in the 2017 budget. 

The administration has called on the Congress to support the new policies and to bring in "commonsense gun safety reforms."

"The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage, but they can't hold America hostage. We can't accept this carnage in our communities," Obama tweeted on Monday. 

"We will keep guns out of the wrong hands, enforce our guns laws, and ensure those with serious mental illnesses get treatment," he said. 

Republicans have already raised objections to Obama's move. 

"While we don't yet know the details of the plan, the president is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will. His proposals to restrict gun rights were debated by the United States Senate, and they were rejected. No president should be able to reverse legislative failure by executive fiat, not even incrementally. The American people deserve a president who will respect their constitutional rights – all of them. This is a dangerous level of executive overreach, and the country will not stand for it." House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said in a statement on his website.

Activists supporting stricter gun laws have welcomed the decision. 

"President Obama's decision to clarify and enforce the law requiring more gun sellers to conduct background checks is an important victory for public safety and a setback for criminals and gun traffickers," former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-founder of the lobby group Everytown for Gun Safety, told The Guardian