Much will be made of Barack Obama’s gun control measures, particularly from gun-rights advocates. The hyperbolic madness has yet to even begin. The important step will be learning what Obama has actually proposed, instead of what his enemies say he has proposed. For a concise overview, lets turn to Slate. Obama’s proposals break down into two overall categories: executive orders and potential legislation. Twenty three executive orders will be given out, and because they fall under the power of the executive, do not require approval from Congress:
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 technologies16. 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.
The list of potential legislation is a bit shorter, but very ambitious:
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.
His suggestions also include $4 billion to states to secure 15,000 additional police officers for use as school guards.
Now that we know what is actually being suggested, we can have a sensible debate about the merits of each item. As I said, you are going to hear much about this. You’ll now know the reality of the measures, and be better suited to cut through the hyper-partisan spin.