Obama’s 7 Most Important Gun Proposals

President Barack Obama announced a series of new executive orders and appointments on Wednesday, designed to reduce gun violence in America. In addition to some new legislative proposals, Obama has put together a panoply of new tools for the government to use to regulate guns, and mitigate gun violence. Here are seven of the most important steps we can take to curb the damage wrought by guns.

7. Require Federal Agencies to Make More Information Available for Background Checks, and Improve Incentives for States to Do The Same

We’ll get to the current problems with the current background check requirements in a minute, but at least 60 percent of guns are sold with a background check right now. Even if there are loopholes large enough to drive a planet through, it only makes sense that those who face background checks face checks that are complete and accurate. If we can close the loopholes, so much the better.

6. Nominate B. Todd Jones to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

The ATF is the law enforcement body tasked with overseeing the investigation of the unlawful sale and manufacture of guns. In our post-9/11 world, you’d think that would be a priority, but of course, that would mean the government might take your precious, precious gun. In 2006, the job of Director of the ATF was made a position that required Senate confirmation; since then, not one person has been confirmed to office.

B. Todd Jones, the current U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, has also been serving as Acting ATF Director since 2011. He succeeded the previous acting director, Kenneth Melson.

Needless to say, it doesn’t help an organization’s operational capacity if it never has an actual leader, which is probably why the NRA has opposed literally every ATF director nominee, including Michael Sullivan, who was nominated by George W. Bush.

At first glance, it may seem unlikely that the Senate would confirm Jones after their many rounds of failure, but with the country actually caring about gun regulations, it will be hard for the NRA to block Jones simply because he might actually do his job. No, Jones won’t be a magic salve for the organization, but at least the ATF can start moving in a direction.

5. Commit to Finalizing Mental Health Parity Regulations

Under the Wellstone and Domeneci Act, mental health problems are supposed to be covered by insurance at a rough parity with physical ailments. The same lifetime caps, provider visit restrictions and copay responsibilities are supposed to apply to both types of ailments. Of course, the devil’s in the details, and with the Affordable Care Act set to fully implement in 2014, regulations remain up in the air.

Clearly, mental health care is vital, not just to prevent gun violence, but as a quality of life issue for millions of people suffering from mental illness. Clarifying regulations sooner rather than later will help the health care industry chart out care options — and hopefully, help stop people from spiraling out of control.

4. Emphasize Prosecution of Gun Violence and Gun Crime

It goes without saying that using a gun for a crime is, in fact, a crime. Putting an emphasis on gun crime prosecutions means that these crimes will be strongly punished — and strongly pursued. No, it isn’t ideal if a gun crime is prosecuted, rather than prevented, but by making it more likely that using a gun will make a criminal pay for their crimes, we can take criminals — and guns — off the street.

3. Direct the Centers for Disease Control to Research Gun Violence

With the number of gun deaths in the United States, it’s clear that guns represent a public health hazard. You’d expect the CDC would study this, but you’d be wrong; the law prohibits the CDC from “promot[ing] gun control.” Out of an overabundance of caution, the CDC has avoided researching gun violence because their conclusions might show that gun control would be helpful, and since facts have a liberal bias, that would make Wayne LaPierre cry.

Obama’s directive lets the CDC off the hook, saying, essentially, that you can research stuff and provide facts, as long as you don’t promote anything in the process. It’s not perfect, of course, but it will allow vital public health research to go forward, and may just help us find ways to reduce gun violence in the long run.

2. Require Background Checks for All Gun Purchases

Obama can’t do this by executive order — he’ll need Congress to pass a law to put this into effect. Still, this would have a significant impact on gun violence. Right now, gun dealers must perform criminal background checks on buyers — but this restriction does not apply to sellers at gun shows or individual sellers. Extending the background check requirement would make it harder for people with violent pasts to get their hands on weapons, and make it harder for “straw buyers” to get away with purchasing weapons for criminals.

1. Pass a New Assault Weapons Ban

Again, this will require Congress to act, and there’s no guarantee they will. An assault weapons ban may be popular, but the Republicans in the House are beholden to a base that views any regulation of weapons as an assault on liberty.

If an assault weapons ban were to pass, however, it would make it harder for the next mass shooter to kill as efficiently. Sure, there will still be oversized-magazines on the market, not to mention a bunch of semiautomatic weapons. Still, the ban makes it harder to buy the worst type of weapons. When assault rifles are no longer for sale at Walmart, Americans will be safer.

Obviously, not all of these changes will take effect, and none of them will prevent every possible shooting. That should not be the measure of whether the regulations work. Just as no seat belt can save every crash victim, no gun law can stop every killer. That doesn’t mean we should stop pushing for people to wear seat belts, though, and it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t regulate our militias.

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Image Credit: ThinkStock


Sarah Hill
Sarah H4 years ago

More government control over our lives. The gun laws we already have don't work, what makes anyone think more will? Just look at Chicago, Connecticut, etc. Everywhere the are strict gun laws, there is high crime.

Matt B.
Matt B4 years ago

Susan T. posted "Matt B - you can have a gun. Get a licensed, heavy gauge, double barreled shotgun for your house... Carry a licensed handgun when you go out to stop potential muggers.

But no, you don't get to decide that you simply have to have a military style weapon. Anything that can fire multiple numbers of bullets (more than 7) without reloading is overkill (excuse the pun). If you can't stop a mugger with 7 bullets I doubt 10 will do it...

Do you think you have the right to a "hand held" rocket launcher too?"

Susan your post is flippant, condescending, and mst of all flat out wrong.

My "license" Susan is the 2nd Amendment. My choice of weapon or weapons is my own not yours or some other anti-gun nut's. The number of rounds I have in my weapon or weapons is equally none of your concern. For the firearms and medically ignorant here let us review: Not all wounds are fatal, not all fatal wounds are instantly so. There have been numerous documented cases of people surviving multiple gun shot wounds. Furthermore there are plenty of documentated cases of people not surviving single or multiple gun shot wounds but living long enough to kill others or as the case maybe to kill more before finally dying of their wounds. So yes there is a reasonable and demonstrated need to be able to shoot more than 7 or even 10 times before reloading.

Matt B.
Matt B4 years ago

post continued

Meanwhile I will point out (again) that the tool (firearms) we are talking about can be used by honest citizens to protect themselves from robbery, assault, and murder. Therefore laws that forbide weapons only help the criminal who won't obey anyhow while at the same time putting the honest citizen at a disadvantage.

Matt B.
Matt B4 years ago

Carole L. I don't know if your post was suppose to be an actually answer to my question of where in the world we don't find crime, but Vatican city is not it. Besides the fact that you can't live there unless you work for the Church, there is crime there. There has even been murder. So again anti-gun nuts quick with lies posing as truth.

In a another post I see that you quote me again this time about Lanza's weapons from the school shooting. The guns were stolen, what part about that didn't you get the first time. It does not matter who actually owned them, they were stolen by the psycho.

Here's a quote of yours I'd like to address: "So why have any laws at all? After all, people still commit crimes even with laws against them"

The answer to the question you pose is so that we as society can have a reasonable degree of order. Proper laws have a place, but not laws for the sake of pointlessness. We have laws already forbidding robbery, assault, and murder. Why should we need any anti-gun laws laws too? They are pointless and redundant in light of the fact that it is already illegal to commit a robbery with or without a gun, same for assaulting a person or murdering them. Why do we need to worry about a tool that may or may not be used in such a crime? The crime as we have just established is already covered. Meanwhile I will point out (again) that the tool (firearms) we are talking about can be used by hoest citizens to protect themselves from robbery, assault, and

Tim Ra
Tim Ra4 years ago

Carole says ~ “So why have any laws at all?”

Oh, but we do. Problem is there isn’t enough funding to enforce them. Agree with you on the Reagan thing, though, that truly is where a lot if these problems began.

Carole L.
Carole L4 years ago

henry K
"What a joke! None of these proposals would have stopped the Newtown shooting. Nor will they do anything to reduce violence."

So why have any laws at all? After all, people still commit crimes even with laws against them.

NorthernLady C.
"Don't some of you know how fast and easy it is to put another clip in a gun? Enacting these gun laws will only change the fact that criminals will be the only ones with guns"

they were able to stop the Arizona shooter because he had to reload, and that's when he was tackled.

Billie C
"what needs to be done is take the crazy folks off the streets. oh yea i forgot you can't do that because they have the right to be nuts."

They were off the streets until Reagan got elected and closed all the mental institutions.

Carole L.
Carole L4 years ago

matt B
"As far as where we need to live Will, please tell us where in the world anyone can go that more than two people live at, where there is no crime and therefore no need for weapons of self-defense?"

Vatican city.
Vatican Welcomes Obama Gun Control Proposal

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican praised President Barack Obama’s proposals for curbing gun violence, saying they are a “step in a right direction.”

The Vatican’s chief spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that 47 religious leaders have appealed to members of the U.S. Congress “to limit firearms that are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths.”

“I am with them,” Lombardi said, in an editorial carried on Vatican Radio, lining up the Vatican’s moral support in favor of firearm limits.

`’The initiatives announced by the American administration for limiting and controlling the spread and use of weapons are certainly a step in the right direction,” Lombardi said.

Lombardi renewed Vatican appeals for disarmament and encouragement for measures to fight “the production, commerce and contraband of all types of arms,” an industry fueled by `’enormous economic and power interests.”]]]
so you see, Obama is not trying to take away your guns, the Catholic church is.

Carole L.
Carole L4 years ago

@ John H, since you are clearly incapable of grasping the difference between women choosing when and when not to become parents as opposed to a crazed gunman performing retroactive abortion on multiple people at one time, I choose not to toss my pearls.

Anne S.
"I just don't get the whole gun culture thing in America. I can't help feeling that even if you just had rocks, you'd spend most of your time throwing them at each other, descrating the land to have the biggest quarries. Why don't you all just calm the $##t down and concentrate on dealing with the important issues. For goodness' sake, you're the country which expects all world nations to look up to?"

we're not all crazy, it's just that the crazies have stolen the keys and car.

matt B
"The shooter there did not own any weapons, what he used he stole which is another example of the ineffectiveness of anti-gun nut laws."

The guns were legally owned by his mother.

Susan Allen
SusanAWAY A4 years ago



Wanda B.
Wanda Bagram4 years ago

Anti-Gun fans, Put up a sign! Lead by example!