Not that the gun debate really needed any more fuel, but President Barack Obama rolled out his plans for gun reform in a press conference Tuesday morning.
Taking recommendations from a committee led by Vice President Joe Biden, Obama said he is ready to take on Congress to reduce gun violence.
While Obama said he strongly believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, there are four “common sense” approaches to take to curbing mass shootings like in Newtown Conn., Oak Creek, and Tucson.
The President’s plan includes: (1) closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands; (2) banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and taking other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence; (3) making schools safer; and (4) increasing access to mental health services.
Highlights from the plan include:
• Require criminal background checks for all gun sales.
• Take four executive actions to ensure information on dangerous individuals is available to the background check system.
• 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.
While the president laid out his plan for Congress to take action, he also asserted his executive privilege into the debate. Obama announced that he would be implementing 23 new executive actions to make progress right away.
Republicans have already been critical of the president’s executive orders, with some lawmakers saying they would look at initiating impeachment proceedings.
The executive orders to be implemented immediately include:
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.
Arizona Congressman Ron Barber took part in discussions with VP Biden over the last month, calling for more focus on the mental health factor in gun violence. Barber was shot two years ago along with then Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who lived through a gunshot wound to the head.
“I am focused on making sure that we take steps to identify and treat people who have mental illness before they can harm themselves or others,” Barber said after today’s meeting. “In a number of mass shootings, untreated or undiagnosed serious mental illness has been an underlying cause.”
See the president’s full proposal at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/wh_now_is_the_time_full.pdf