President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced 23 executive actions they assert will reduce gun violence. President Obama also re-affirmed his support for a reinstated assault weapons ban and a national “high capacity” magazine ban. They were joined on stage by several schoolchildren who had sent in letters in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting.
“Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen,” the President said in the address.
“Let’s do the right thing … for [the shooting victims] and for the country that we love so much,” President Obama concluded as he sat down to sign the 23 executive orders. He urged congress and proponents of the firearm industry to make steps against gun violence, which includes reinstating the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. Obama stressed the need to keep firearms out of the wrong hands with improving background checks.
The president promised to “use whatever weight this office holds” to support Vice President Biden’s task force on reducing gun violence. President Obama also spoke briefly about providing incentives for schools to hire resource officers, and funding research for the effects of violent video games. These are two hotly debated subjects that were brought up by the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPeirre in the NRA Press Conference late last month.
The NRA recently posted a video online criticizing Obama’s stance on gun-free zones for public schools, and plans to fight against the new wave of gun restrictions with a large media campaign.
The following is a list of the president’s executive actions provided by the White House:
- 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 innovative technologies.
- 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.