Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Devil Is In The Details

But there are no surprises in President Obama's Gun Violence Reduction Plan and only one serious disappointment*...

Other than restrictions on militaristic-looking guns, pointy ammo, and curved magazines, the NRA could have
(should have?) made this proposal.  Before the pundits are issued their talking points, I'll take a moment to record my initial impressions of the President's initiative.
The President's proposals to Congress:

Require background checks on all gun sales.

"...keeping guns out of the wrong hands starts with legislation to require background checks for all gun sales, with limited, common-sense exceptions for cases like certain transfers among family members and temporary transfers for hunting and sporting purposes."

This was the law in California for most of the time we lived there, which is also the period during which I purchased about half of my firearms.  I wonder if this doesn't have some small chance of passing.  Yes, this would close the so-called "Gun Show Loophole" which always only meant one private citizen selling his gun to another private citizen.

Reinstitute the Assault Weapons Ban, including a prohibition on high capacity magazines.

"Several recent mass shootings involved high-capacity ammunition magazines that were prohibited from 1994 to 2004. Many of the mass shooters used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban. It is time for Congress to renew the 10-round limit on magazines, and reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban."

Banning cosmetic features is a solution to nothing, but since the AWB is a dead letter there's no reason for the administration to ask for a ban on all self-loading firearms.  Word is the administration is willing to grandfather existing high capacity magazines just as in the previous ban (which accomplished little or nothing by way of crime prevention or reduction).  Again, since a new AWB is a non-starter, there's no reason for the administration to suggest that all high capacity magazines be made subject to the NFA restrictions, perhaps under the Any Other Weapon category. 

Ban armor piercing bullets.

"The President also is calling for legislation to finish the job of getting armor piercing bullets off the streets by prohibiting the possession and transfer of this dangerous ammunition, in addition to its manufacture and import."

Armor piercing bullets are to Democrats what the Star Wars missile shield is to Republicans.  Except for specialty items sold only to the military or law enforcement, none are imported and nobody bothers to make them domestically.  Only inside the beltway does solving a non-existent problem constitute problem solving.  Silly rabbits.
Call for Congress to pass the Administration’s $4 billion proposal to help communities keep 15,000 cops on the street.

All that takes is money.
Call for Congress to pass new gun trafficking laws, which will impose serious penalties on those who help get guns into the hands of criminals.

Not a bad idea, but snarky comments about the ATF's "Fast and Furious" debacle (the scandal, not the movies) will be unavoidable and well-deserved.

Call for Congress to remove restrictions that require ATF to authorize importation of dangerous weapons simply because of their age.

I guess I never thought about eliminating the Curios and Relics category.  Most C&Rs are tired old warhorses. 

End the freeze on gun control research by the CDC.

"The Administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for the CDC to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence."

I didn't know the CDC needed permission to investigate public health issues.
Actions the Administration plans to take:

Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system. 

Great idea.

Address 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. 

Great idea.

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

Great idea. 

Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks. 

Interesting...details please.  Who else might we add?

Propose rule-making to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun. 

Interesting.  It never occurred to me that law enforcement investigators would return a stolen or illegal gun to person who does not own it or is not authorized to possess one.

Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

Necessary if the background checks on all private sales passes. 

Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. 

Great idea. 

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

"The President believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, and he respects our nation’s rich hunting and sport shooting traditions. But this right comes with a responsibility to safely store guns to prevent them from accidentally or intentionally being used to harm others."

"Gun owners have a responsibility to make sure their guns are safely stored. If a gun is lost or stolen, it is important to report it to local authorities."

*Great idea, but it could have been stronger, much stronger.  Again, if Mrs. Lanza had kept all her guns in a safe none of us would ever have heard of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

Good idea, if time consuming and expensive. 

Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement. 

Great idea. 

Nominate an ATF director. 

Nominating is easy; securing Congressional approval is the trick. 

Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations. 

Great idea. 

Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime. 

Enforcing existing laws is always a fine idea, especially going after everyone who lies on their Form 4473 but gets stopped by the background check.

Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. 

Great idea. 

Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies. 

Great idea. 

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

Great idea. 

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

Great idea. 

Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. 

Great idea. 

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

Great idea. 

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

Great idea. 

Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges. 

Great idea. 

Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations. 

Great idea. 

Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health. 

Great idea. 

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed