President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, talks about proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama announced the recommendations of Vice President Joe Biden’s gun task force today, suggesting new legislation to Congress for expanded background checks and an assault weapons ban, as well as signing 23 executive orders aimed at combating gun violence.
“This is our first task as a society — keeping our children safe,” the president said. “We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.”
Among the executive orders, which do not require congressional approval, are mandates for better enforcement of gun laws, better reporting from federal agencies to improve background checks and the appointment of B. Todd Jones, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to that position in a permanent capacity.
Obama said he will also seek money to help schools improve their security.
On the legislative side, the president called on Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004, as well as outlawing high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. He further asked legislators to close the gun show loophole that allows people to buy firearms from private dealers without having to first pass a background check.
Additionally the report called for laws that expand access to mental health treatment and eliminate restrictions on federal gun violence research, among several other proposals.
Whether Congress will actually take up some or any of the proposed bills is yet to be determined. “House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations,” Speaker of the House John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, said in a statement. “And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that.”
The full list of the president’s executive orders:
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal 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 rule-making 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.