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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
Cruz to Back Trump
2 days ago
Two Polls for Clinton, One for Trump
2 days ago

With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:

  • An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clin­ton lead­ing Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary John­son at 7%.
  • A Mc­Clatchy-Mar­ist poll gave Clin­ton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way bal­lot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
  • Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
Trump Eschewing Briefing Materials in Debate Prep
2 days ago

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shun­ning tra­di­tion­al de­bate pre­par­a­tions, but has been watch­ing video of…Clin­ton’s best and worst de­bate mo­ments, look­ing for her vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies.” Trump “has paid only curs­ory at­ten­tion to brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. He has re­fused to use lecterns in mock de­bate ses­sions des­pite the ur­ging of his ad­visers. He prefers spit­balling ideas with his team rather than hon­ing them in­to crisp, two-minute an­swers.”

Trump Makes No Outreach to Spanish Speakers
2 days ago

Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."

Clintons Buy the House Next Door in Chappaqua
2 days ago

Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."