They say sometimes its’ better to go big or go home…in the case of comprehensive gun regulations, it appears President Obama has indeed gone big, as evidenced by his press conference earlier today in which he announced what likely is the most comprehensive package of gun violence prevention measures ever proposed in the past 40-50 years. The package, which included both legislative proposals and 23 executive orders, cover everything from mental health to gun safety to universal background checks to bans on military-style assault weapons. Examples from his proposals include:
- Universal background checks. Included are provisions which would require all potential gun owners to undergo background checks and provisions to close the “gun-show loophole”, which allows individuals at gun shows and at private sales to forego background checks.
- Improved reporting of criminals & the mentally ill. Although states currently are required to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System(NICBCS) all persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms, there are numerous holes in that reporting system. Legislative proposals would provide grant monies to states to strengthen background check systems to fill in said holes; executive orders would require regular reviews to ensure that states are following background check provisions.
- Reinstates the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Likely the toughest fight of any Obama is likely to face, this legislative provision would reinstate the 1994 ban on military-style assaults weapons, such as the ones used in both the Aurora and Sandy Hook mass shootings; unlike the 1994 ban, however, this go-round would close some of the grandfather provisions in the 1994 law.
- Bans on high-capacity magazine clips. Part of Obama’s comprehensive gun violence prevention package includes capping the size of magazine clips at 10 rounds and banning the sale & distribution of extended-capacity clips. As with the assault-weapons ban, this was part of the 1994 law and current provisions would also close grandfather provisions from the prior law.
- Banning armor-piercing bullets. Although it is currently illegal to sell armor-piercing bullets, it is legal to possess said rounds; Obama’s proposals would ban both the ownership & transfer of armor-piercing bullets.
- Funds for additional police officers. Part of Obama’s list of proposals calls on Congress to appropriate up to $4 billion in funding to local & state governments for additional police officers.
- Strengthening gun tracking rules. By executive order, one of Obama’s proposals would require all agencies to comprehensively track all firearms that are used in the commission of crimes; it would also require agencies to track the ownership of said firearms back to their initial owners. In addition, it would also require states to assist in tracking said firearms via. comprehensive gun databases.
- Restoring funding for gun violence research. Long opposed by gun-rights organizations, this provision of Obama’s would restore funding to state & federal agencies entrusted with tracking gun violence for public health reasons. Another proposal would restart research on how violence in video games correlates with gun violence, something also opposed by the gun lobby.
- Strengthening mental health provisions. Part of Obama’s proposals dovetail with provisions recently passed in New York state which would obligate mental health providers in reporting to authorities those persons who possess firearms who may either be suicidal or are fostering thoughts of harming others.
- Promoting safe gun ownership. Part of the administration’s proposals calls on starting a conversation with gun owners across the country on ways to responsibly own firearms, calling on them to lock firearms up if there are children or the mentally ill living nearby for instance, along with calling on federal agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure that gun safes and locks work as advertised.
- Funding school counseling. Along with provisions to fund additional law enforcement, another provision would allocate funding to states to hire additional school counselors; funding would come through both existing and future grants with legislative provisions for matching state funds to go along with them.
- Fostering safe, anti-bullying, school environments. Another provision would provide funding for up to $5 billion to support safer school environments; this would likely dovetail with the previous reason stated above.
- Expanded Medicaid services for the low-income mentally ill. Finally, one provision of Obama’s proposals would expand Medicaid services for those who are mentally-ill who fall under Medicaid coverage.(point of disclosure: at present, I currently receive mental health counseling which is partially covered under NC Medicaid) In addition, grant monies would be provided on a matching basis to state mental health programs to assist them in covering those within this provision.
Like I said, sometimes you gotta’ go big….and judging by these proposals and the others mentioned in Obama’s press conference today, it appears he went big indeed.