Extended magazines like the one
in this pistol would be banned if
the president's proposal is approved
by the Senate and House.
As expected, the two key recommendations on gun violence announced by President Obama today—in a feisty appearance in which he called out opponents to sensible reform—were universal background checks on anybody buying a gun from any source and a renewed ban on semi-automatic assault weapons together with a maximum limit of 10 rounds in the capacity of magazines for semi-automatic firearms—rifles, pistols and shotguns.
But those require legislative action, which, the president acknowledged, will be no easy matter to accomplish. He therefore called on Americans across the country, especially in districts where gun rights advocates are strong, to ask their representatives if they support new gun restrictions, and if not, why not. This call to action, combined with the use of the "bully pulpit" that the president is obviously preparing for in this certain-to-be-ferocious battle, marks an important change, a kind of merger between campaigning Obama and governing Obama. Huzzah to that.
But the president isn't waiting for Congress. He also took immediate action on a list of 23 items, executive orders and other matters under his purview, before he left the South Court Auditorium where the anti-gun violence measures were announced. Unlike what extremists have been saying, none of these have anything to do with the right-wing claim of "gun-grabbing." Indeed, they are extremely modest. The leading examples:
• Directing Attorney General Eric Holder to review the categories of people who are now barred from owning firearms. Currently, felons, people who have been adjudicated a danger to themselves and others because they are mentally ill and users of illegal drugs (including marijuana) cannot legally buy or possess firearms.
• Nominating B. Todd Jones, the part-time "interim acting director" of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to be permanent director. That post has been vacant because of gun advocates' opposition to filling it since 2006.
• Directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. Since 1996, the CDC has been specifically barred from such studies.
• Launching a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
Below the fold is the entire list of executive actions the president took today.
Please send an email to your member of the House of Representatives demanding s/he support President Obama's proposals for improving gun safety.
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
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
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
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