True to his word, President Obama has stepped forward with more than just words. Today with Vice President Biden by his side, Obama announced the most aggressive gun control police reform in over a generation. This is going to be more aggressive the assault weapon’s ban Clinton managed to pass (with a Republican House) in 1994.
The proposals that are getting a push from the White House is going to include requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, a ten round limit on all ammunition magazines, reinstating the assault weapons ban, eliminating armor-piercing bullets, providing mental health services in schools and allocating more funds for law enforcement. This push is very ambitious and I’m sure the President is going to address this issue during his inauguration speech on Monday.
There’s no guarentee this is going to pass through the house, but right now house Republicans are in a Catch 22. If they gun this reasonable proposal down, it is sure to be an election issue for next year’s midterms. If they don’t play ball with Obama on this issue now, then two years from now it could be speaker Pelosi writing up the next assault weapons ban, and I can guarantee you if a Democrat lead house writes that bill, it will be a lot more strict than the one Obama is purposing now. Basically what this means is Republicans should play ball while they still have a spot at the table.
President Obama also did more than just talk today, as he signed twenty-three executive actions into law that serve as a first step for his administration. Here are some of those executive orders:
- Increased Access To Background Check Data: A Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
- Removing Legal Barriers On Background Checks: 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.
- Incentivize Sharing Of Background Check Data: Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
- Review Criteria For Gun Ownership: Obama has directed the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
- Background Checks For Returning Seized Guns: Obama purposes rule making to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
- Better Gun Tracking In Criminal Investigations: Issued a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
- ATF Director: Obama will nominate a director for Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. The AFT hasn’t had a director in over half a decade.
- Increased Research On Gun Violence: Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
- Clarifying Obamacare On Doctors & Guns: Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
- Inform Doctors On Reporting Threats: The White House will release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
Obama also made proposals and executive orders to assist the medical community to increase funding and coverage for mental health issues and also help law enforcement to enforce these new laws and the ones already on the books.
What the President did today was a step in the right direction. For all the people who thought that nothing would happen in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook. Like the shooting at the school in England in 1996, this shooting has changed things and today’s proposal by the President is proof of that.
Republicans have two options: be a part of the process and have a place at the table, or they can defeat this bill… which will make it a major campaign issue at next year’s mid-terms. If gun control is an issue and the democrats take the house back, I guarantee you the guy law a democratic house passes for Obama to sign will be ten times more harsh than anything they pass this year. That should be incentive enough for the Republicans to compromise on gun control.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens but one thing is for sure: this time the issue isn’t going away.