After multiple nationwide reports of mass shootings last year, President Barack Obama is starting the New Year with action on gun control and gun safety. The gun debate is a divisive one and has literally brought any law-making efforts to improve gun control and safety to a standstill. What’s more, this is President Obama’s last year of his second term in office so, the effectiveness of his executive order is uncertain, especially with an opposing Congress and the likelihood of a potential Republican president vetoing the order upon taking office. But, the Obama administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Attorney General (AG); and others will work together to expand, clarify, and uphold gun laws. Obama lists four components to his executive order regarding gun safety:
“1. Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks.”
If you sell firearms, you need a license and you need to conduct background checks on the people who want to buy your firearms. Not having a firearms seller’s license and not conducting background checks are violations of the law and violators are subject to criminal prosecutions. With regards to background checks in particular, the FBI will develop more modern and thorough license examinations as well as an electronic system that effectively notifies authorities of any illegal firearm purchase.
“2. Make our communities safer from gun violence.”
Key government agencies are going to be more active in upholding and engaging gun laws. The ATF will employ 200 additional investigators to ensure compliance with these firearm licensing laws and have already created an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online gun sales. Additionally, dealers who ship firearms must inform law enforcement if the guns to be shipped are stolen. This will enable law enforcement to act accordingly to locate the firearms and stop these guns getting into the wrong hands. The other big push made under this point is to urge every U.S. Attorney’s Office to work with domestic violence outreach programs to protect those innocents that could be in danger from gun violence.
“3. Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.”
There is a stigma that people with mental health illnesses are capable of mass murder, but Obama stated in his speech that “nearly two out of three gun deaths are suicides.” So, to avoid perpetuating the stigma of mental illness, it is being formally recognized that people with mental health issues need help from themselves and their mental illnesses shouldn’t be treated any less than physical illnesses. A $500 million investment is proposed in order to make the mental healthcare accessible to those who need it. A critical inclusion to the background checks scenario is to consider mental health in applications and prohibit those who suffer from mental illnesses from possessing a gun.
“4. Shape the future of gun safety technology.”
To further prevent gun violence, the Obama administration is asking the relevant Departments to research and support the creation of gun safety technology. Smart devices can be used based on a fingerprint with perhaps similar future technology implemented for guns. Certainly, the priority to explore such technological advancements is much higher now.
Read the detailed press release here.