Obama’s Executive Action for Gun Control

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— by Hannah Lewis


Source: Press Release, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, Fact Sheet: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer (Jan. 4, 2016).


Abstract: President Barack Obama recently announced that taking executive action to increase gun control regulation and make the process of obtaining a gun more thorough. Obama is aiming to classify more gun sellers as gun dealers, which will require them to conduct background checks on potential buyers.


In light of all the incidents, fatalities, and mass shootings occurring around the country that involve guns, President Barack Obama announced at the beginning of January that he is pushing for more regulation with gun control. Previous action by President Obama to pass gun control legislation has been unsuccessful and he has been unable to get Congress on board with his previous gun control plans. This new regulation is aimed at decreasing gun violence and illegal possession of guns. President Obama is taking executive action to achieve these ends.


This executive action consists of ten provisions. First, ATF states that if you are in the business of selling firearms, you must have a license and conduct background checks. Second, if a potential buyer is trying to purchase a weapon that is considered one of the most dangerous, through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity, then a background check is required. Third, the FBI is making the background system more effective and efficient, with improvements such as 24/7 processing and notifying authorities when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a weapon. Fourth, in an attempt to make the communities safer, the 2017 federal budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents to enforce gun laws. Fifth, the Internet Investigation Center has been established that will be responsible for tracking illegal online gun trafficking.


The six provision entails a requirement that gun dealers notify law enforcement if the guns are lost of stolen in the process of their sale. The seventh provision proposes an increase in access to mental health care through a $500 million investment. The eighth provision entails a requirement for the background checking system that requires information about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm due to their mental health. The ninth provision includes eliminating unnecessary legal barriers that prevent States from reporting information relating to people that are prohibited from possessing a gun due to their mental health. The final provision directs the sectors of the federal government, including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security, to conduct research on gun safety technology.


As with any new laws, these provisions have come with both high praise and scrutiny. Opponents argue that this is executive overreach and bypasses the legislative branch. Arguments that this these provisions are a violation of the Second Amendment have also been made. Additionally, they question whether these new laws will actually achieve the end of reducing gun violence because criminals are not going to follow the laws anyways. GOP presidential candidates have also spoken out against President Obama’s executive action. If elected, they vow to reverse the executive order once they are in office.