Gun Reform’s Not Dead, Just Napping, Taking Baby Steps

The administration on Friday introduced two new actions to strengthen federal background checks.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 02: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about AIDS during a World AIDS Day event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, December 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. On the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day, President Obama announced that funding to prevent AIDS will be increased by 100 million dollars. 
National Journal
Lucia Graves
See more stories about...
Lucia Graves
Jan. 3, 2014, 9:21 a.m.

After gun-con­trol le­gis­la­tion failed loudly in the wake of the New­town shoot­ing, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion set to work, pree­mpt­ing Con­gres­sion­al grid­lock with ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions on dozens of gun-con­trol ini­ti­at­ives. Today we can add two more to the list.

The Justice De­part­ment is out with an ini­ti­at­ive to cla­ri­fy who’s pro­hib­ited from pos­sess­ing a fire­arm un­der fed­er­al law for men­tal-health-re­lated reas­ons. Spe­cific­ally, any­one in­vol­un­tar­ily com­mit­ted to a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion, either in­pa­tient or out­pa­tient, should be des­ig­nated as such, a pro­pos­al meant to help states de­term­ine who should be barred from hav­ing guns.

The oth­er, pro­posed by the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment, would al­low states to sub­mit “the lim­ited in­form­a­tion ne­ces­sary to help keep guns out of po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous hands” to the fed­er­al back­ground-check sys­tem, cir­cum­vent­ing ex­is­it­ing pri­vacy pro­vi­sions un­der a law known as HIPPA.

“Too many Amer­ic­ans have been severely in­jured or lost their lives as a res­ult of gun vi­ol­ence,” the White House said in a state­ment. “While the vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans who ex­per­i­ence a men­tal ill­ness are not vi­ol­ent, in some cases when per­sons with a men­tal ill­ness do not re­ceive the treat­ment they need, the res­ult can be tra­gedies such as hom­icide or sui­cide.”

Oth­er ini­ti­at­ives in­tro­duced by the ad­min­is­tra­tion in the last year in­clude rules to bet­ter pre­pare loc­al law en­force­ment and schools, re­spond to shoot­ings, and keep guns out of the hands of felons.

The White House has noted that ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions alone can’t take the place of com­pre­hens­ive le­gis­la­tion, but giv­en the fail­ure of the ex­pan­ded-back­ground-check bill in April and the re­new­al of the Un­detect­able Fire­arms Act this winter, ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion seems like the best path for­ward for now.

What We're Following See More »
Hillary Clinton Accepts the Democratic Nomination for President
3 hours ago

"It is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for president," said Hillary Clinton in becoming the first woman to accept a nomination for president from a major party. Clinton gave a wide-ranging address, both criticizing Donald Trump and speaking of what she has done in the past and hopes to do in the future. "He's taken the Republican party a long way, from morning in America to midnight in America," Clinton said of Trump. However, most of her speech focused instead on the work she has done and the work she hopes to do as president. "I will be a president of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For the struggling, the striving, the successful," she said. "For those who vote for me and for those who don't. For all Americans together."

Protesters Make Good on Threat to Disrupt Speech
3 hours ago

Supporters of Bernie Sanders promised to walk out, turn their backs, or disrupt Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, and they made good immediately, with an outburst almost as soon as Clinton began her speech. But her supporters, armed with a handy counter-chant cheat sheet distributed by the campaign, immediately began drowning them out with chants of "Hillary, Hillary!"

New Survey Shows Clinton Up 9 in Pennsylvania
12 hours ago

If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."

Democrats Beat Republicans in Convention Ratings So Far
12 hours ago

Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."

Catholics, Highly Educated Moving Toward Dems
16 hours ago

Catholics who attend mass at least weekly have increased their support of the Democratic nominee by 22 points, relative to 2012, when devout Catholics backed Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll shows that those voters with advanced degrees prefer Hillary Clinton, 51%-34%. Which, we suppose, makes the ideal Clinton voter a Catholic with a PhD in divinity.