President Obama addressed the issues of gun control and violence in an announcement to the nation today where he put forth the gun control package that he plans on implementing during his term.
The $500 million dollar package was created by suggestions put forth by Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on control. The task force is aimed at curbing gun violence in the United States in the wake of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary. The President called on Congress to take action by establishing universal background checks for those looking to purchase a gun.
He is also looking to ban military-style assault weapons outright and add a ten-round cap to gun magazines. The President is also urging Congress to confirm Todd Jones, acting director for the ATF as the director of the ATF.
Immediately after the address, President Obama signed 23 executive actions that do no require congressional approval. They are as follows:
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
- 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.
- Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
- 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.
- Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
- Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
- Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
- Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
- Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
- Nominate an ATF director.
- Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
- Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
- 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
- Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
- Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
- Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
- Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
- Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
- Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
- Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
- Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
The GOP naturally has reacted harshly to the President’s efforts, claiming the proposals as an attack on the constitutional right to bear arms. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said in a statement:
“Nothing the president is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. President Obama is targeting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence.”
The NRA has been claiming that it would work with Congress in order to find what the group believes to be real solutions to protect children. For example, they believe that schools should have armed security, and have even released an ad calling the President a hypocrit for not endorsing the idea.
The President has called accusations that he is seeking to violate gun rights untrue, and has stated that his opponents are more interested is waging a campaign of fear and intimidation rather than working with him to make the necessary changes. He stated:
“We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.”
Opponents are promising a political fight, with NRA spokesman claiming that the groups membership has experiences a sharp spike in membership as a result of the discussions on gun control that began in the past month.
The polls are telling a different story however, showing public support for stronger gun control measures t be stronger that ever before.
On Tuesday, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo was the first to sign a new series of gun regulations since the Sandy Hook incident. Residents of the state of New York will be registered state wide, and licensing for weapons will be standardized across the state. Gun carriers are also limited to clips that contain 7 bullets, versus the standard of 10.
What is your opinion on gun control measures? Will it change the level of violence in the country today? Or will things remain as they are?