Gun controlWhite House considering gun-control measures beyond assault weapons ban
Sources in the White House say the administration is considering a broader and strategy on guns control in the wake of the Newton, Connecticut, mass shooting; the approach being considered will go farther than a ban on certain types of assault weapons; the Biden task force, which will submit its recommendations to President Obama in a few weeks, is leaning toward adoption of measures recommended by the law enforcement community, among them requiring universal background checks for firearm buyers, tracking the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthening mental health checks, and stiffening penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors
Sources in the White House say the administration is considering a broader and strategy on guns control in the wake of the Newton, Connecticut, mass shooting. The approach being considered will go farther than a ban on certain types of assault weapons.
President Barakc Obama has tasked Vice President Joe Biden with heading a task force to examine different policy options, and the Washington Post reports that Biden’s study group is leaning toward adoption of measures recommended by the law enforcement community, among them requiring universal background checks for firearm buyers, tracking the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthening mental health checks, and stiffening penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.
Fox News reports that to get around the likely opposition to proposed measures by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its supporters, the administration may is likely to enlist Wal-Mart and other gun retailers who, in the past, have expressed support for similar measures.
These gun retailers have an economic interest in closing the current background check loopholes, which allow people to buy guns at gun shows without being subjected to background checks. The assumption is that if background checks apply universally, people would prefer the convenience of a near-by retailer over the need to drive hours to a gun show.
The administration is quietly talking with a different interest groups, including religious leaders, mental-health professionals, hunters, and others in order to form as broad a coalition as possible in support of the new measures.
Biden will submit his task force’s recommendations by the end of January.
The Post also reports thatBiden’s group will not stop at legislative proposals, but would also propose a series of measures that can be implemented by an executive order. Such administrative action may include changes to federal mental-health programs and modernization of gun-tracking efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
On 20 December, the senior officers of more than a dozen leading law enforcement groups met with Biden and other cabinet secretaries to urge the task force to adopt a more comprehensive approach to gun violence, rather than focus only on assault weapons ban.
Participants in the meeting said there were lengthy and detailed discussions of mental-health issues, violence in video games and movies, and the poor quality of information included in databases used to conduct criminal background checks before issuing gun permits.
The administration has let it be known that it intends to act quickly, with the memory and images of the Newton shooting still vivid in the public mind.
Representatives of the law enforcement community urged the administration to act quickly. “As we get involved in these ad nauseam debates over the Second Amendment, our children are still at risk,” said Jon Adler, national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA). “Debating is not the action verb we need to protect our children.”
The Post notes that there are already several bills on the Hill addressing gun violence. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who sponsored the 1994 assault-weapons ban which expired in 2004, said she would introduce legislation this month that would ban the sale or manufacture of about 120 firearms, including semiautomatic rifles and military-style handguns, as well as ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.
The 1994 assault weapons ban prohibited the manufacturing of nineteen models of semiautomatic guns classified as assault weapons, including certain rifles and shot guns.
FLEOA’s Adler told the Post that he had advised the Biden task force that they need to pursue multiple measures to increase their chances of success. “We can’t put all our protection-effort eggs in one basket with one piece of legislation,” he said. “We’ve got to do more than that.”