The recommendations fall into three major categories: better background checks; taking "military-grade weapons" off the streets; and "better data, better coordination and better enforcement" of existing laws. Some of them have become well known in the debate over new restrictions that began after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was gravely wounded and others murdered or injured in Tucson in January 2011 and intensified after the Aurora, Colorado, theater murders last summer and the slaughter of first-graders and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, last month. Others are new or take a fresh approach to old proposals.
How many of these could gain presidential or congressional approval is anybody's guess at the moment. A ban on "military-grade" weapons, for instance, would clearly meet stiff resistance in the House and, quite possibly, the Senate even though several polls, including the latest by the Washington Post and ABC News, show a majority of Americans favor such a ban. Improved background checks have a better chance, not least because these have broad popular support among the majority of gun-owners as well as other Americans.
In the condensed version of the recommendations below, I have added a • to mark proposals for legislative action and a ° for proposed executive orders:
• A background check for every gun sale [...]Despite the continuing claims of the National Rifle Association, other gun lobbies, hate-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and whack jobs like James Yeager, there's not one word in CAP's recommendations about registering guns, licensing owners or any mass confiscation of firearms, including those for which future sales would be banned.
• Input all necessary records into the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System
Requiring that all gun sales be predicated on a criminal background check is an effective means of keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals—but only if the
background check system itself functions properly. Since the Brady Handgun Violence
Prevention Act was passed in 1993 to mandate all licensed gun dealers perform background checks, the FBI has conducted more than 150 million background checks in
connection with gun sales, blocking gun transfers in more than 1.7 million instances. But for the system to work better, states must provide the federal government with the
names of all the individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms for inclusion in
the nationwide database.
Though this seems like a common-sense action, states have been slow to provide these
records, particularly regarding individuals barred from owning guns due to mental illness. Ten states have failed to provide any mental health records to the National Instant
Criminal Background Check System, and 18 others have submitted fewer than 100
records since the creation of the system in 1999. [...]
• Prevent convicted stalkers from acquiring guns [...]
• Close the “terror gap”
Nothing in the current law prevents known or suspected terrorists from clearing a background check and purchasing guns. And some of them are doing just that [...]
° Penalize states that fail to provide records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [...]
° Ensure that federal agencies provide required records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [...]
° Perform background checks on employees of federally licensed dealers during the course of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives audit inspections [...]
• Reregulate assault weapons
These military-style assault weapons should be banned from sale in the United States in the manner proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who plans to introduce a bill to stop the sale, transfer, importation, and manufacturing of militarystyle assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices. Alternatively, the administration might consider legislation to require licensing and transfer restrictions on new and existing assault rifles, similar to the scheme currently in place for machine guns and other Class III firearms.This action would reduce access to such militarygrade weapons by felons, the Mexican drug cartels, and mentally deranged individuals.
• Ban high-capacity gun magazines [...]
° Require broader reporting of multiple sales of assault rifles [...]
• Strip riders from the administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget and all future budgets that restrict gun data collection and sharing
[This would repeal the so-called Tiahrt Amendments that restrict the collection and use of gun-related data] [...]
• Treat gun trafficking as a serious crime [...]
° Begin the process of the FBI absorbing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
In recent years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has become a
beleaguered agency that is unable to adequately fulfill its mission to oversee and enforce
federal firearms laws. For reasons such as lack of funding, limitations on its activities
included in appropriations riders, and a leadership vacuum, the bureau is simply incapable
of functioning properly as a standalone agency in its current state. These problems undermine the bureau’s ability to combat gun crime and illegal trafficking. Also undermined is the morale of roughly 2,500 bureau agents who risk their lives daily to make the United States safer. These agents deserve to work in an agency that matches their own tenacity [...]
That doesn't, however, mean that these proposals, if they happen to match what the vice president announces Tuesday, won't be fought fang and claw by NRA and congressional Republicans.