Even though the constitution doesn't specifically spell out what an executive order is, executive orders have been used by presidents from Barack Obama all the way back to George Washington.
"There's a long standing tradition of presidents using executive orders to direct their subordinates and try to accomplish certain things that Congress has allowed them to specifically accomplish," said Rocky Rhodes, a constitutional law expert who teaches at South Texas College of Law.
He sees no problems ahead for Obama's long list of executive orders aimed at gun control. In fact, Rhodes said, historically, the Supreme Court has only held a handful of executive orders as unconstitutional.
"The limitation is the president has no authority to be a lawmaker," Rhodes said. "An executive order cannot create new law; it can't change what's legal or illegal."
That's why the president needs Congress to renew the ban on high-grade military-style assault weapons. The president calls the reforms common sense measures that most Americans will support.
And that's what we found when asking Houstonians their opinions.
Things like tougher penalties for gun purchasers caught lying on background checks and federal grant money to improve school safety makes sense to them.
"I agree there should be stiffer penalties with people that lie on background checks," Marcia Viviano said. "I think background checks are very important, I don't think we should be taking guns away from everyone."
"We don't need the high capacity clips and assault weapons," said Bill Haag. "I'm a hunter and I have guns but I don't think we need assault weapons."
"I don't think people should be buying guns in the first place," George Roblero said. "Cause students are taking them into school."
"It's good to protect your home especially when you have kids but they get into stuff they're not supposed to get into and they can hurt themselves or others and take them to school," added Roblero's wife Annette.