Three cheers for President Obama! In spite of the no-so veiled threats coming from the extreme right, in spite of the NRA’s commercial referencing Malia and Sasha, in spite of the fact that it would be easier to float some meaningless, half-arsed proposals, Obama has made some challenging, substantive proposals to promote gun safety in the United States.
There may, I think, some civil liberties issues in the New York law that authorizes law enforcement to remove guns from the homes of the mentally ill, but it’s hard to believe anything that far-reaching would pass Congress. Here’s a list of the President’s executive orders and legislative goals, respectively:
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.
And these are the legislative ideas — i.e., the ones the president wants to push through Congress, starting with the more pliable Senate.
- Require criminal background checks for all gun sales. (a.k.a. closing the “gun show loophole.”)
- Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.
- Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
- Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.
- Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.
- End the freeze on gun violence research.
- Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.
- Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.
- Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.