A few minutes ago, President Obama announced a $500 million package, synthesized from suggestions put forth by Vice President Joe Biden's task force on gun control, aimed at curbing gun violence in the U.S. in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. The President called on Congress to take action in a number of ways, including:
- Establishing universal background checks for anyone looking to buy a gun
- Banning military-style assault weapons, as well as a 10-round cap on gun magazines
- Confirming Todd Jones as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (Jones is currently acting director, as Congress has not confirmed a director in six years)
Immediately following the announcement, Obama also signed 23 executive actions, which do not require congressional approval. They are the following:
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
- 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.
- Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
- 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.
- Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
- Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
- Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
- Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns
recovered in criminal investigations.
- Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it
widely available to law enforcement.
- Nominate an ATF director.
- Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper
training for active shooter situations.
- Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to
research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
- 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
- Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients
about guns in their homes.
- Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits
them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
- Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
- Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
- Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
- Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
- Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
- Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental
During his announcement, Obama stated that in the month since the massacre in Newtown, more than 900 Americans have been killed by guns. Obama, who at parts of the speech was both emotional and forceful, urged several times he will do everything he can to curb gun violence in America.
[Image via AP]