After all the run-up in the media about how Obama was going to just come out swinging and propose bold, new, sweeping actions that would directly address so-called “gun violence” today’s actual list is an anti-climactic, weak, and scattered demonstration of someone flailing ineffectually in order to be seen as “doing something.” And those that actually will have some kind of effect are either off-the-mark or are almost certain to cause unintended ill effects. Let’s have a look at them:
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system. I beg your pardon? You have to issue a Presidential Memorandum to make the federal agencies with relevant data actually make that data available? Seriously? You have to issue a memo that’s going to read something to the effect of, “All government agencies will actually talk to each other in the pursuit of the People’s business. You know, like the People already expect you to do”? In my word, that’s called “doing their jobs.” What’s it say about the leadership in the Executive Branch that it requires a specific memo to get those agencies that directly report to the Chief Executive to do their jobs? Nothing good.
- 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. In other words, after jerking the medical profession – and their patients, thank you – around for years putting this HIPAA thing in place, Obama wants to weaken the protections on that private data. Because, you know, the federal government has been so stellar in their secure stewardship of such private data in the past. Something tells me that they’ll open that data up when they want to deny citizens their exercise of their 2nd Amendment rights, but they’ll claim they can’t release anything when that data is called into question.
- Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system. Meaning? What incentives are already there that can be improved? Of course, avoiding another unfunded mandate might go a long way.
- 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. You mean like, perhaps, adding “Mexican Drug Cartels” to the list of people we shouldn’t be giving guns to? Might be a good start. Question: why isn’t the DoJ already maintaining an updated list of these categories? Seond question: who’s making the criteria for those categories and deciding who goes in them?
- Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun. So, wait a minute. Giving law enforcement the ability to run a background check to determine whether a person is in the United States illegally is bad, fascist, racist, and downright evil. But doing exactly the same thing before returning private property is something we need to be doing immediately?
- Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers. Running a NICS check is running a NICS check. The FFL’s don’t need another how-to on doing something they already do as a matter of their day-to-day business. What this is is just an attempt to sneak in a ban on private sales whatsoever. FFL’s don’t need guidance to perform something they aren’t required to do.
- Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. We’re over $16 trillion in the hole and Obama wants to start up a marketing campaign? First, we can’t afford something like this. Second, the NRA has been doing this for years and they’re way, way better at providing accurate information to gun owners than the federal government has ever even dreamt of being. Third, I don’t believe for an instant that any program under this President would even remotely address this topic without politicizing it.
- Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission). The CPSC already does this, or certainly should be. Of course, there are already private-sector laboratories that do this, too. Again, this is just spending we don’t need to provide a substandard service that’s already available.
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations. Excuse me? You’re telling me that federal law enforcement agencies that recover a gun in the pursuit of a criminal investigation don’t trace the gun? Wrong. I know for a fact that they do. But, again, what does it say about the competence of the Executive Branch leadership that the White House thinks they do need to send out this memo? And again, nothing good.
- Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement. See #9. Obama is suggesting that his DoJ has this information and has been deliberately holding it back from law enforcement agencies throughout the country?
- Nominate an ATF director. You are the person who makes this nomination. You’ve been President for 4 years, Mr. Obama. What’s stopping you? Why haven’t you done your job, sir? Of course, you’ve managed to blow it on the budget for all but 1 year, too, so I can’t say I’m surprised, but don’t sit there telling me you’re going to get around to nominating an ATF Director, get the lead out and get it done.
- Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations. Finally, something that would actually do something real and it’s a step I think we can all get behind. I’d imagine that law enforcement already does this, but providing the same kind of active shooter training you give to federal employees and contractors would be a good start. Perhaps Obama can partner with private firms already performing this training?
- Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime. In other words, do what the NRA, 2nd Amendment advocates, and responsible public leaders have been saying to do for years. I’m glad Obama is finally on board with this, but what’s taken so long to get this admission that it’s what’s needed? We should give this a serious go before layering on another bunch of repeats at failed strategies like the “assault weapon” bans and such.
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. Why is there even an implied assumption that violence with a gun is caused or prevented any differently than violence of any other sort? Because it’s the only way you can validate a “blame the gun” approach so important to this president and his supporters on this issue. I’m not sure the CDC is the proper agency to do this but that’s actually a moot point. The CDC is legislatively barred from researching gun violence by a provision in their appropriations bill. It’s a provision that’s been placed in the appropriations bills every year for a long time and signed each of the last 4 years by President Barack Obama. I would suggest he should know that.
- 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. An incredibly vague order but, given the rest of his agenda I think it’s a safe bet to say that “gun safety” techologies are those that would prevent the gun from working.
- Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors
asking their patients about guns in their homes. And what business is it of a doctor what I have in my home? Obama’s not being very subtle in his decision to approach Obamacare as less health care and more crowbar to regulate any aspect of your life. If the law doesn’t explicitly prohibit something then that something is not prohibited, but why make a big deal of that unless you’re suggesting not that someone can do something but that they should be doing something?
- Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities. Seems that laws regulating health care sure need a lot of clarification all of a sudden.
- Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. Read that: funnel more tax money to teachers’ unions. I’m curious how we can’t afford armed guards in the schools but we can hire “resource officers.” How about we define that term first before we agree to anything?
- Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education. Given the range of differences these institutions can cover, only the most basic of basic models could possibly cover them. Are we sure this hasn’t already been done?
- Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover. Medicaid plans are already well defined and that can’t be changed by executive order alone. Another do-nothing order to make it look like he’s busy.
- Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges. These are supposed to go live this year. Like, in just a few months. The regulations aren’t already finalized? What are you waiting for?
- Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations. “Commit to finalizing?” As in: we’ll agree to do the job we already agreed to do?
- Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health. And I’m sure it’ll be just as balanced and inclusive as the national dialog on gun laws has been over the past month.
Face it: there is absolutely nothing here that would have addressed the tragedy at Newtown and nothing here that will protect the next group of school children being attacked. Add this list to the litany of failed “ban scary gun stuff” approaches and you’ve got a lot of hot air and useless arm-flapping by this administration.