The White House released details of the forthcoming executive orders by President Obama to “reduce gun violence and make our communities safer” on Monday evening, outlining four key points that will be addressed by the President's unilateral action.
In a statement, the White House conveyed a desire to curb gun violence by saying it “has taken a heartbreaking toll on too many communities across the country,” adding:
“Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place.”
And because Congress has “repeatedly failed” to pass any comprehensive gun control reforms, the President has decided to issue several new measures and changes, among which are:
1) “Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks.”
While background checks are already law due to the 1994 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, the President's plan looks to embolden them.
The first part of the plan attempts to convey a universal background check system:
“If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.”
But being “in the business” of selling guns could simply mean firearm dealers, all of whom are already required by law to obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Or, the plan could be read as also applying to peer-to-peer transfers, of which it is legal in some states to conduct off the books.
The first part of the plan also calls for “overhauling the background check system to make it more effective and efficient.” In order to boost the NICS background check system, the FBI will hire upwards of 230 more examiners and other staff.
2) “Make our communities safer from gun violence.”
In the second part of the plan, the White House announced that President Obama will request 200 new ATF agents and investigators for his Fiscal Year 2017 budget plan (that plan is due on February 1).
In addition, the plan takes on the sale and transfer of black market firearms:
“ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.”
The ATF will also complete the drafting of a rule that makes sure dealers notify law enforcement when their firearms are stolen or lost in the shipping process. Attorney General Loretta Lynch also sent a memo to “renew domestic violence outreach efforts.”
3) “Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.”
The third part of the plan tackles an issue congressional Republicans have been open to addressing: mental health.
The Social Security Administration gets thrown into the mix, too. The plan outlines a proposed method for allowing various agencies to report more individuals who suffer from mental health problems.
"The Social Security Administration has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.
The executive order also calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to be able to report on those whose mental health disorders prevent them from possessing a firearm:
The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons."
In addition, the President's plan will ask for a $500 million investment for increasing access to mental health care, likely to also be included in the FY2017 budget.
4) “Shape the future of gun safety technology.”
The fourth part of the plan encourages the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice to expand research into “smart gun” technology.
“Smart guns” are firearms that often require an RFID chip, proximity token, or a fingerprinting method to act as an additional safety. Such products have been panned by gun rights advocates, as they could potentially lead to increased prices for firearms, could be used as a catalyst for prohibiting the manufacture of traditional firearms, or even be susceptible to hacking.
Meanwhile, the President's long-expected executive actions on gun control are to be officially signed this week. But this plan garners less bite than many of the administration's past proposals, such as the failed 2013 push by Democrats which called for so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines.
But the President's plan does put forth a plethora of new changes to the gun industry, in the middle of a business climate that is experiencing all-time record level sales.