What you need to know about Obama's new gun safety executive action
It’s no state secret that President Obama has a long wishlist of goals he’d like to meet before he leaves office one year from now. Chief among them is his desire to curb the mass shooting epidemic in the United States and today the president made good on his promise to introduce anti-gun violence legislation.
In an emotional press conference held this morning at the White House with friends and families of shooting victims looking on, President Obama issued a series of executive orders — more or less circumventing a Congress he says is being controlled by the gun lobby — and set up new parameters for not only gun owners, but gun sellers. Here’s how things will change.
Background checks will be more thorough and must be conducted by all gun sellers
At the heart of gun violence is the fact that many unqualified people are sold guns without having completed a background check. To address this, President Obama’s new executive actions will require anyone selling guns — whether they own a business or sell from their personal collection — to obtain a license and conduct background checks through a more efficient and effective system being developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Additionally, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) will now require people who are purchasing guns via trusts, corporations or other legal entities to undergo a background check.
Part of the federal budget will go toward hiring more people to monitor the sale of guns
While Attorney General Loretta Lynch is directing U.S. Attorneys to pressure federal prosecutors into staying on top of current gun laws, the President has set aside more than $4 million dollars to hire 200 more ATF agents and investigators and to improve the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. Meanwhile, the ATF has created a new Internet Investigation Center charged with tracking sales of illegal arms while gun dealers will be required to report if their shipments are stolen or lost in transit.
Mental health treatment will be made more accessible and those who suffer from mental health issues will have a more difficult time obtaining guns
Though the great majority of people with mental health issues pose no threat to the safety of others, there have been cases where mentally ill individuals were allowed access to firearms with tragic results. To address this, the Obama administration hopes to cajole Congress into putting half a billion dollars toward improving access to mental health services.
Additionally, the Social Security Administration will share data on mentally ill beneficiaries who have been barred from owning guns, making that data available in background checks, while The Department of Health and Human Services will make it easier for states to bypass the legal barriers that currently prevent them from reporting people with mental health issues who have been prohibited from accessing guns.
The government will fund gun safety research efforts
The Obama administration has been always ahead of the curve when it comes to marrying government and technology. Accordingly, President Obama is calling on the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to actively invest in research focused on gun safety and smart gun technology in hopes that safer guns will replace the current stock of weapons.
Head here for more details on the President’s new gun safety measures.
(Image via Shutterstock.)