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 »
Senator John McCain paid a secret visit to Northern Syria over the weekend during his trip abroad. McCain reportedly went "to speak with American officials and Kurdish fighters leading the charge to push ISIS militants out of Raqqa, the jihadist group’s stronghold." The trip was organized with the help of U.S. military.
"The Trump administration will deliver its first budget to Congress in mid-March, and the president confirmed Wednesday it will contain major cuts for federal agencies." The blueprint, expected to be released in mid-March, will not include the kinds of specifics usually seen in White House budgets, but rather will instruct the heads of agencies to "do more with less."
Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.
"The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to ensure that records related to Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections are preserved as it begins investigating that country’s ties to the Trump team. The panel sent more than a dozen letters to 'organizations, agencies and officials' on Friday, asking them to preserve materials related to the congressional investigation, according to a Senate aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading the most comprehensive probe on Capitol Hill of Russia’s alleged activities in the elections."