White House outlines plans for gun control

President Barack Obama delivers a statement as Vice President Joe Biden, left, looks on in the Brady Press Briefing Room about the policy process the Administration will pursue in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden held a press conference at the White House Wednesday to outline the administration’s plan for gun control changes in response to the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged,” Obama said. “We can’t put this off any longer.”

The New York Times has divided the proposal into actions Obama can achieve on his own and those he needs congressional approval for. A poll released Friday by Gallup showed 53 percent of Americans are in favor of the proposals. According to The New York Times, Obama’s proposals include:

Executive actions:

• Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

• Addressing 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.

• Improving incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

• Directing the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

• Proposing a rule to give law enforcement authorities the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

• Publishing a letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

• Starting a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

• Reviewing safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

• Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

• Releasing a report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and making it widely available to law enforcement authorities.

• Nominating an ATF director.

• Providing law enforcement authorities, first responders and school officials with proper training for armed attack situations.

• Maximizing enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

• Issuing a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.

• Directing the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies, and challenging the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

• Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

• Releasing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

• Providing incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

• Developing model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

• Releasing a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

• Finalizing regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within insurance exchanges.

• Committing to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

• Starting a national dialogue on mental health led by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Proposed congressional actions:

• Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, including those by private sellers that currently are exempt.

• Reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.

• Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

• Banning the possession of armor-piercing bullets by anyone other than members of the military and law enforcement.

• Increasing criminal penalties for “straw purchasers,” people who pass the required background check to buy a gun on behalf of someone else.

• Acting on a $4 billion administration proposal to help keep
15,000 police officers on the street.

• Confirming Obama’s nominee for director of the ATF.

• Eliminating a restriction that requires the ATF to allow the importation of weapons that are more than 50 years old.

• Financing programs to train more police officers, first responders and school officials on how to respond to active armed attacks.

• Provide additional $20 million to help expand the system that tracks violent deaths across the nation from 18 to all 50 states.

• Providing $30 million in grants to states to help schools develop emergency response plans.

• Providing financing to expand mental health programs for young people.

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