Obama Takes Action to Reduce U.S. Gun Violence
?Following a series of mass shootings in 2015, President Barack Obama is taking executive action to reduce gun violence, which claims the lives of more than 30,000 Americans each year.
�The United States of America is not the only country in the world with violent or dangerous people�but we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency,� Obama said in a speech from the White House Tuesday morning. �It doesn�t happen in other advanced countries. It�s not even close.�
Fed-up with Congress�s inaction on passing new background check requirements and closing loopholes, Obama said he is taking new actions and engaging in a new dialogue with �not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try to prevent the next one.�
Surrounded by victims of gun violence and gun safety advocates, Obama outlined a series of actions that he will be taking over the course of the next few months to reduce gun violence. However, he cautioned that his efforts are �not a plot to take away everybody�s guns.�
First on the administration�s priorities is to make background check requirements the same across the board, regardless of where individuals are purchasing a gun.
�Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks or be subject to criminal prosecutions,� Obama said.�
The administration is clarifying this requirement to combat Internet and gun show sellers from bypassing licensing requirements and purchasers from bypassing background check requirements, allowing criminals to purchase firearms in some cases.
�We�ve created a system in which dangerous people are allowed to play by a different set of rules than a responsible gun owner who buys their gun the right way and subjects themselves to a background check,� Obama explained. He added that this was a widespread problem, citing a study which found that one in 30 people looking to buy a gun on a website had a criminal record.
The FBI will also be overhauling its current background check system to bring it �into the 21st century,� Obama explained. The new improvements will include processing background checks 24 hours per day, seven days a week.�
The FBI will also improve the notification system to alert local authorities when certain prohibited individuals unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. And the bureau has pledged to hire more than 230 additional examiners and staff to help process background checks.
Additionally, the administration is addressing criminals� use of trusts and corporations to shield their gun purchases. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is currently finalizing a rule to require background checks for people trying to �buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity,� according to aWhite House fact sheet.
The administration is also prioritizing the enforcement of gun laws already in effect as part of its new push to reduce gun violence.�
Attorney General Loretta Lynch spearheaded this effort by calling U.S. Attorneys around the country to direct them to continue to focus on �smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws,� the White House fact sheet said.
Obama is also including funding in his fiscal year 2017 budget to hire 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce gun laws. However, that funding will need to be approved by Congress.
ATF has also created an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and will spend $4 million to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. Furthermore, ATF is finalizing a rule to require gun dealers who ship firearms to notify law enforcement if guns are lost or stolen while in transit.�
Addressing concerns raised by critics and advocates alike, the Obama administration is also pushing to �do more to help those suffering from mental illness get the help they need,� Obama explained. �Truth is, nearly two in three gun deaths are from suicides, so a lot of our work is to prevent people from hurting themselves.�
As part of this effort, the Obama administration is proposing a $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care nationwide, which will need to be approved by Congress. The Social Security Administration will also begin the rulemaking process to submit information to the background check system on beneficiaries who are prohibited from owning a firearm for mental health reasons.
Additionally, the administration is working to remove legal barriers that prevent information sharing about individuals prohibited from owning firearms.�
For instance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to �remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing states from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons,� the White House fact sheet explained.
As the final part of his executive actions, Obama said he plans to boost gun safety technology.
�In 2013, more than 500 people lost their lives to gun accidents�and that includes 30 children no older than five?. There is no reason for this,� Obama explained. �We need to develop new technologies that make guns safer.�
To aid this effort, he�s directed the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor gun safety technology research. �The departments will also review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to improve gun safety.
Obama is also pushing for new research to improve gun safety. �We do research when cars, food, medicine, even toys harm people, and we make them safer,� he said. �And you know research, science, those are things that work.�
While the administration�s actions may not have prevented previous mass shootings and will not prevent all future gun deaths, Obama said it was important to take steps to at least reduce gun violence.�
�We know we can�t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world,� he said. �But maybe we can try to stop one act of violence.�