In his press conference yesterday, President Obama announced a broad range of proposals and actions that he believes will help reduce gun violence. His proposals were ambitious – he chose to push an agenda that faces strong opposition and the risk of some failures rather than follow a more comfortable path. He even called out the National Rifle Association (NRA) by name, noting that according to a recent survey over 70 percent of its members supported universal background checks.
In his address he highlighted specific proposals that he says Congress should act on right away, and also a few of the 23 executive actions that he signed off on immediately after his remarks.
As to Congress, he called on them to pass legislation to require universal background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun, ban what he referred to as military-type assault weapons, limit magazines to 10 rounds of ammunition, get tougher on purchasers of guns for resale to criminals, and put more cops back to work and on the streets. He also called for the Senate to confirm Todd Jones who he has nominated as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – a position that’s been open for six years.
Of the 23 executive actions noted above (and see list below), he highlighted directives that would strengthen background checks, help schools hire more resource officers if they want them and help them develop emergency preparedness plans, make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, and direct the Centers for Disease Control to study ways to reduce gun violence.
Many of the President’s proposals were already under attack even before he announced them. And there is little doubt that the opposition will get stronger as them have more time to organize. For his part, Obama seems determined to push as hard as he can. As he said of his proposals: “I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.”
A Summary of the 23 Executive Actions Referred to Above (Source: Office of the White House Press Secretary)
Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions
Today, the President is announcing that he and the Administration will:
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.