The President's Gun Control Plan - Right, Wrong and Indifferent.
In a well orchestrated media event this morning, President Obama announced what he referred to as a 'comprehensive' plan to curb gun violence. In fact, he announced a comprehensive plan to restrict illegal access to firearms and apparently an effort to ban certain types of guns. I've found a list of the 23 executive actions that the President has taken. Rather than resorting to the popular 'bumper-sticker politics' that I see so frequently on facebook, I thought it more valuable to share my opinion on each of these.
a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant
data available to the federal background check system.
Right: If the information isn't included in the NICS database then it can't be used to nullify an illegal purchase.
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.
Right: Health care workers are greatly intimidated by the privacy provisions of HIPAA, and frequently uncertain about what information can, or can not, be shared under that act.
Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
Right: Since it is the Federal government that wants the information, the Federal government should be paying for it.
the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited
from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through
Indifferent: The categories of people prohibited from purchasing firearms was established by congress and it's pretty straight forward. This won't accomplish anything either way.
rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background
check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
Indifferent: I would think this is already done very routinely. Cops are pretty good about running background checks on people they suspect of having committed a crime, especially if the crime involves a firearm.
a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance
on how to run background checks for private sellers.
Right: All of the talk about 'internet sales' of firearms in pure bull. In order to ship a firearm from one State to another, the transaction must go through a BATF licensed dealer in order to perform the background check. It is done frequently in Alaska and is a service that most gunsmiths and small-scale dealers offer their customers. Of course, if you're addicted to Wal-mart and don't know anywhere else to turn........
Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
Indifferent: The NRA already does this to a large degree, without spending tax dollars. It isn't hard to learn how to use and store firearms safely.
Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Indifferent: This seems to me like a way to spend Federal dollars doing something that belongs in the private sector, such as manufacturers and of course our unbiased friends at Consumer Reports.
Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
Right: This tends to make me think of the "Fast and Furious" debacle, though. In any event, in theory this could help in returning lost or stolen firearms to their rightful owners, and I can't see that as a bad thing.
Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
Right: If such a report has been prepared, it should have been released immediately. What ever happened to all of the President's electioneering talk about 'transparency'?
Nominate an ATF director.
Indifferent: While I have noticed that the National explosives licensing division is apparently back-logged and moving rather slowly to address applications for renewal of explosive's licenses (I'm a black powder dealer, so have to deal with this division) their compliance agents have been doing a very thorough job in spite of the lack of a director. While it's a duty in which the President has been remiss, it won't make much difference at the working level.
Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
Right: This should have been happening long, long ago. I think it interesting that this is a service that NRA offered early on, but was soundly rejected by the President.
Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
Right: This should have been happening all along.
a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to
research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
Indifferent: When it comes to politically controversial issues, CDC has not been known to be unbiased, and in fact they have released very sloppy "research" to support political agendas. Denver's ban on pit-bull dogs comes to mind, as it was based on epidemiology studies allegedly performed by CDC that wouldn't pass muster as a sophomore level college project.
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 innovative technologies.
Right: Everyone has a vested interest in firearms safety and in the past some promising work was being done by leading firearms manufacturers. As an armed security officer, if someone IS powerful enough or skilled enough to take my sidearm from me I'd much rather hear "click" than "bang".
Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
Indifferent: So what difference is this going to make?
a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law
prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement
Indifferent: Again, I don't see this making any difference at all. Health care providers already know what they are required or permitted to report.
Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
Right: But isn't this exactly what the much-dreaded NRA proposed?
Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
Right: I suspect the Feds are WAY behind the curve on this one, though. Most local law enforcement agencies, who WILL be the first responders on any sort of shooting, have most likely already addressed this.
Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
Indifferent: State health officials already know what Medicaid will cover, and what it won't.
Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
Right: Although it won't have an impact on gun violence.
Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
Right: Although again I don't think it will have an impact on gun violence.
Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
Right: but truly, isn't this also something that should have been ongoing for a long, long time?
So far, the only thing that President Obama has proposed that I feel is absolutely wrong is a congressional ban on so-called 'assault weapons' and 'high capacity magazines.' Data gathered during the previous ban (1994 - 2004) showed that it made little or no difference in violent crime statistics in the United States. The focus on replicas of military arms, some of which are useful to law-enforcement and armed security professionals as patrol rifles, is a red-herring.We are, after all, talking about a basic, constitutionally guaranteed right. If we are going to restrict a constitutional right of the people, there should at least be excellent evidence showing that the infringement will achieve the desired purpose, and in this case, the evidence just isn't there.