In the wake of last month’s tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the White House has moved swiftly to address the ramifications of rampant gun violence and introduced a series of executive actions to reduce violent acts by guns Wednesday afternoon. President Barack Obama, who had already assigned Vice President Joe Biden as the chair of the anti-gun violence task force, introduced 23 executive actions, which are part of a federal gun control plan to counter this harrowing epidemic.
President Obama began his anti-gun violence speech with the following:
In the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary, more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun, 900 in the past month.
So I’m putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe’s task force. And in the days ahead I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.
Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.
Chief among the President’s plans are improving upon background check loopholes to make certain guns don’t reach the hands of violent persons. Also introduced is the banning of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which hold several rounds of bullets. There is also a push to make schools safer by boosting security and other measures. Obama’s plan also calls for increasing access to mental health services.
Obama was not shy in calling out Congress to act in accordance with the policy directives, flanked by Biden and children from around the country who wrote in about what happened at Newtown, Conn.
Emotions were high during the press conference, with Obama speaking sternly at times while employing his typical bits of humor, and cameras swept the crowd and caught some obvious venerable moments.
At the conclusion of the event, President Obama sat at a desk bearing the presidential seal and signed in to order the executive directives to help jump start the development of programs and other supporting measures to curb gun violence.
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.(As it stands, several federal agencies currently do not collaborate with one another automatically. This move would make the sharing of data mandatory.)2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability (HIPAA) and the Accountability Act, which may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.(HIPAA’s “privacy rule” prevents state agencies certain access to information that could be instrumental in determining the background of a gun buyer. This directive makes the process of obtaining records easier.)5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.(This directive serves to uncover if an individual received their firearm illegally and if they have a history of gun violence.)
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
(During the conference, President Obama remarked that a study should be conducted to discover a possible connection between violent video games and entertainment in connection with gun violence.)
With stronger emphasis on gun safety, it will be interesting to see if President Obama and Joe Biden will be able to withstand the expected push-back from gun owners who feel the plan is far too intrusive. Further, with gun violence a definite issue within the African-American community, it will be important to see if these directives will have an impact in our communities as well.