The push for new gun laws by the Administration of President Barack Obama and certain anti-2nd Amendment lawmakers kicked into high gear yesterday with Obama’s “do it for the kids” speech about why his Administration will make gun control a top priority.
At the time of this writing, the executive orders the President signed immediately following his gun control speech had not yet been published on the White House website. But a review of the President’s plan, dubbed “Now Is The Time,” (which did make an appearance on the website) offers an overview of what actions the President has taken unilaterally and the costs associated with those actions.
The Executive Orders
According to a fact sheet handed out to reporters, the President signed orders that will:
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. 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.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. 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.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. 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 innovative technologies
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
A more complete examination of each of the Presidential actions will likely ensue as the White House provides more specifics regarding the executive orders.
The Call To Action
In addition to his unilateral gun control measures, Obama has called on Congress to reinstate and strengthen the ban on “assault weapons” and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition in the United States. Other legislation that Obama requested from Congress would:
- Add more restrictions to the already regulated trade of armor-piercing bullets.
- Give cops more tools to prosecute gun crime.
- Provide more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates and better emergency response plans.
- Help more young people get mental health evaluations.
- Make sure health insurance covers mental health.
- Invest in gun violence research.
Complete success for Obama would not only mean stricter gun laws in America, but also a hefty price to the American taxpayer. The President’s plan, if completely implemented, would require a minimum of $4.5 billion in new Federal spending.
Among the costly gun control proposals outlined in the fact sheet:
- $4 billion to “help keep 15,000 cops on the streets” throughout the Nation.
- $20 million to “give states stronger incentives to make [relevant] data available [for background checks].” $50 million for this in FY2014.
- “$14 million to help train 14,000 more police officers and other public and private personnel to respond to active shooter situations.”
- “$10 million for the Centers for Disease Control to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.”
- $20 million for expansions to the National Death Reporting System.
- $150 million for 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors.
- $30 million of one-time grants to states to help their school districts develop and implement emergency management plans.”
- $50 million to help 8,000 schools “create safer and more nurturing school climates.”
- $15 million to “provide ‘Mental Health First Aid’ training for teachers.”
- $40 million for school districts to “work with law enforcement, mental health agencies, and other local organizations to assure students with mental health issues or other behavioral issues are referred to the services they need.”
- $25 million to provide mental health help to people 16 to 25.
- $50 million to “train social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.”
These costs would be in addition to whatever the government might spend if Congress does implement new gun and magazine bans.
While the President urged Americans with anti-gun sentiments to get out and be heard on the issue, 2nd Amendment supporters are expected to double down on the push against gun control. A number of GOP lawmakers spoke out yesterday in response to the President’s proposals.
Texas Governor Rick Perry expressed disgust at Obama’s political opportunism: “[T]he piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the media – to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children – disgusts me personally. The second amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be, nor will it be, abridged by the executive power of this or any other president.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also offered a powerful response to the President’s speech, saying nothing on Obama’s agenda would have saved the lives of mass shooting victims.
“Nothing the President is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. President Obama is targeting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence,” Rubio said. “Rolling back responsible citizens’ rights is not the proper response to tragedies committed by criminals and the mentally ill. Making matters worse is that President Obama is again abusing his power by imposing his policies via executive fiat instead of allowing them to be debated in Congress. President Obama’s frustration with our republic and the way it works doesn’t give him license to ignore the Constitution.”
Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) chalked up Obama’s plan as another example of the Administration’s attempt to consolidate Presidential power.
“The Second Amendment is non-negotiable. The right to bear arms is a right, despite President Obama’s disdain for the Second Amendment and the Constitution’s limits on his power,” he said. “Congress must stand firm for the entirety of the Constitution — even if, but particularly so, when President Obama seeks to ignore his obligation to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ Taking away the rights and abilities of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves is yet another display of the Obama Administration’s consolidation of power.”
A handful of Republicans have also suggested that lawmakers should initiate the impeachment process against the President if he continues with his ambitious gun control campaign.
Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas), who has publically endorsed Gun Appreciation Day, which is Saturday, said in a statement: “Impeachment is not something to be taken lightly. It is a grave and serious undertaking that should only be initiated in a sober and serious manner. It should be reserved only for most egregious of trespasses by the President.
“I would consider using Executive Orders to engage in attacks on a constitutionally-protected right and violating his sworn oath of office to be such a trespass. The President cannot issue executive orders depriving the people of full access to an enumerated constitutional right.
“I do not think it will come to that. The President is not an absolute ruler, and his actions and orders can be checked and balanced by the Congress and the courts — if the Congress is willing.”
Representative Tray Radel (R-Fla.) expressed a similar sentiment, saying that the President’s actions are bringing conservative Americans to a “breaking point.”
As lawmakers examine the impact of Obama’s announcements yesterday, a Congressional fight over gun control looms ahead with the draconian assault weapons ban bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) waiting in the wings. And though Obama has urged Congress to act and promised to continue to use “any weight” his office holds to force legislative action, gun grabbers will likely fight an uphill battle at the Capitol. The Republican-controlled House will offer the most mighty resistance against incoming gun bills, but even the Democratic-led Senate is expected to have a tough time moving new gun laws.
As the United States continues to be mired in economic calamity with a looming debt crisis forcing near-constant Congressional gridlock, weary politicos can look forward to the forthcoming biggest legislative battle over guns in two decades in the weeks ahead.